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Sixty Six
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Paul Weiland

Written By:
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan

Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Marsan, Gregg Sulkin, Thomas Drewson, Matt Bardock, Alex Black, Cameron Crighton, Catherine Tate, Peter Serafinowicz, Charlie Clark, Nick Shrim, Francine Simmons, Martin Savage, Ony Uhiara, Charles Ferber

Sixty Six (2008)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
September 16th, 2008

Sort of like the stand-up routines of Jackie Mason, 'Sixty-Six' would be best appreciated by Jewish audiences, who would get most of the jokes and understand the importance of the Bar Mitzvah, which happens only once, and represents a boy's passage into manhood; it is an old Jewish tradition that has, in recent times, become as commercialized as everything else, and now it has all the trappings of a lavish birthday party, though it does retain (as far as I know) the ancient custom of reading a passage from the Torah, in Hebrew. Director Paul Weiland has said that this movie is based on his own childhood experiences, but there were undoubtedly some (if not many) embellishments, to add humor and color to the proceedings. Bernie Reubens (Gregg Sulkin) is looking forward to his bar mitzvah, but discovers that it falls on the same day as the 1966 World Cup; England has made it to the finals and will face off against Germany. This means, of course, that nobody will come to Bernie's celebration. He wants as many guests as he can get, so that his party will be bigger and better than his older brother Alvie's (Ben Newton) was. Several factors are working against him. His father, Manny (Eddie Marsan) is obsessive-compulsive, prone to mortifying and embarrassing public behavior; there is a strong possibility that he will do something or say something to humiliate Bernie. To make matters worse, the business Manny had with Bernie's uncle Jimmy (Peter Serafinowicz) is in serious trouble, so the Reubens clan may end up facing calamitous financial issues. It falls to Bernie's mother Esther (Helena Bonham Carter) to hold everything together, and this is an exasperating task. Much like Woody Allen, Weiland and screenwriters Peter Straughton and Bridget O'Connor are able to offer a warm and funny portrayal of a hopelessly neurotic but ultimately loving family. What a fine young actor Sulkin is; looks awkward with his glasses and oversized teeth, but is likable from the start, with an infectious personality and fierce determination. We feel his pain, humiliation, and disappointment.

Eddie Marsan is terrific; he was last seen as a villain in Hancock, and now gets a juicier and more substantive role. He avoids easy caricature as the depressed and unpredictable Manny, and instead focuses on the decency and kindness buried within him. Helena Bonham Carter hits all the right notes as Esther, a dramatic shift from the character she played in Sweeney Todd. Entertaining supporting parts go to Richard Katz as a blind rabbi and Stephen Rea as a physician who specializes in the treatment of asthma. In the end, though, this is all about Sulkin, and he is terrific.

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