Saturday, 24 February 2018

Jewtopia (3 Stars)

Christian O'Connell had a Jewish girlfriend while he was at university. On graduation day she dumped him, giving the reason that at university she could do whatever she wanted, but back home she had to be a good girl. For her being a good girl meant only dating Jewish boys.

Ten years later Christian is working as a plumber -- is that the only job he could get with his degree? -- and he still hasn't got over her. He hasn't had a girlfriend since university. That's sad. When he goes on hunting trips with his family his brothers accuse him of being gay.

Finally he meets the most beautiful girl he's ever seen, Alison Marx, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. There's only one problem. She's a Jew. He doesn't want to lose her, so he introduces himself as Avi Rosenberg. The name isn't enough, so he asks one of his childhood friends to teach him how to convince her he's a Jew.

The first and most important thing is that he should never tell Alison he's a plumber. That's not something a Jew would ever do. He has to be a doctor, a lawyer or a banker. Christian decides to tell Alison he's a surgeon. That's a good choice, because she can never ask to visit him at work.

Christian has to learn a dozen Yiddish words that he can casually drop into conversation. Then there's the matter of etiquette. Whenever he goes to a restaurant he has to complain; he should tell the waiter he wants a better table and the music is too loud. However good the food is, he should say it doesn't taste right. Then he should tell the waiter that the price is too high for what he's been given. That's what Jews do.

There's one more problem. Alison isn't just any Jewish girl, she's a rabbi's daughter. Christian will need more than 12 words of Yiddish to prove that he's a real Jew.

This is a delightfully irreverent film, totally lacking in political correctness. Before you complain about racism remember that the Jews and the English have a common quality: they're able to laugh at themselves. That's something Americans have difficulty with, and Germans can never laugh at themselves.

When I was 17 I had a Jewish girlfriend. Her name was Zena Grinbergs (sic). It wasn't quite as bad as in the film. Her parents tolerated me. Her father was a senior executive at a coal mine. I suppose that's a barely acceptable job for a Jew. She was 15, still a virgin, and she promised me we could have sex when she turned 16. I was willing to wait, but we never got that far. We split up after two months. That was the typical length of my relationships at that age. I don't think she broke up with me because of my race. Her next boyfriend was Catholic.

For Zena it wasn't just a matter of her race. It was also her cultural background. Her family was from Latvia and had come to England after the Second World War. A few years later she met a Latvian boy called Janis, possibly a Jew, and married him. After that I lost touch with her.

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