By Nate Bloom
The original Comedy Central film “Office Race” premieres on Sept. 4 (8p.m.). The two main characters are Pat (Beck Bennett) and Spencer (Joel McHale). Pat is a pushover who coasts aimlessly through life until he’s goaded into running a marathon. He soon discovers that he loves the sport. Spencer is Pat’s co-worker and rival. He’s a “brown-noser” and fitness nut.
ALYSON HANNIGAN, 49, has a large supporting role as Pat, the girlfriend of Pat. Everyone calls her “Girlfriend Pat,” which makes it easier to distinguish her from her boyfriend. As the film begins, Pat has clearly grown weary with (boyfriend) Pat’s lackadaisical approach to life.
Hannigan is best known for playing JASON SEGAL’s wife on the hit sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14). Hannigan’s mother was Jewish, her father was not. Her parents, she said, weren’t very religious, but they celebrated a few Jewish and Christian holidays.
PBS drives me crazy with its failure to adequately flag their new programs in advance. A case in point is “Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony.” It premiered on August 21. But I didn’t learn about it until the day it premiered.
The good news: because it is so new, “Kaddish” is free for anyone to watch (no PBS membership required). Just go to the PBS site or app to watch. If you have a TV that allows you to add apps or app channels — like Roku or Amazon Fire — you can watch it on the PBS app. It will be free for several months.
“Kaddish” was filmed in 2002 at a Chicago festival. The Chicago Symphony was directed by Marin Alsop, a protégé of LEONARD BERNSTEIN. The orchestra “backed” two choruses — a children’s chorus and the Chicago Symphony chorus. They mostly sang in Hebrew.
The PBS publicity says: “the symphony examines questions of humanity and faith, exploring the complicated nature of a higher power who governs mortality.”
The trailer for the upcoming “Maestro,” a biopic about Bernstein, was released last week. Bradley Cooper wrote the film and he plays Bernstein (opens in December). In the trailer, Cooper (as Bernstein) had a make-up device (a prosthesis) that made his nose look much bigger. There was some criticism that Cooper was playing into the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews with “big noses.”
There was a big backlash. Basically, the response was that Bernstein had a large nose and Cooper is a huge fan of Bernstein with no intent to be in the least anti-Semitic. Bernstein’s three children issued a statement supporting Cooper.
I think the critics and the responders are both kind of wrong. My first “gut” response was Leonard Bernstein had a large nose, but it worked for him. Some men, like Bernstein, had/have a large nose that fits in with their face and head. Of course, it’s hard to judge his physical beauty. You can’t separate it from his vitality and talent.
Then, last week, I saw a photo of Bernstein at about the same age (young) that Bernstein is supposed to be in the trailer, and I realized why I hated the “Bernstein nose” in the trailer. The nose in the trailer is close to the nose in the photo — BUT it’s just not right. The nose in the trailer looks like a nose that would grow if Bernstein told a lie (Pinocchio-ish).
If “Maestro” is good, I will probably not be distracted by Cooper’s “Bernstein nose.” But I think it would have been better if they had just left the “nose prosthesis” on the make-up table.
Most of last’s week’s column was devoted to the original Netflix film, “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.” It began streaming last Friday, Aug. 25. It was produced by ADAM SANDLER and he plays the father of the bat mitzvah girl (who is played by Adam’s real-life daughter SUNNY SANDLER, 14. Adam’s other daughter, SADIE, 17, plays the “bat” girl’s older sister).
Well, I am happy to say that the reviews were almost all positive. Great art, its not. But it’s a good family movie that doesn’t downplay its Jewishness. Here’s an excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter review:
[Adam] Sandler….is only a minor presence in the film, generously ceding the lion’s share of screen time to his daughter, who rises to the occasion with an appealingly funny lead performance…the film refreshingly leans into its Jewishness in a big way, not bothering to explain every reference to “goy” viewers…it’s a sweet, amusing film geared toward younger audiences, who will best relate to the main character’s personal travails as she prepares for the film’s main event. (And as they say, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the movie, but it certainly won’t hurt.)