Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's the summer of '66 all over again

First Independent Pictures' Sixty Six

In Sixty Six, it is the summer of '66, and England is about to be consumed by World Cup Fever. For 12 year-old Bernie though, the biggest day of his life is looming: his Bar Mitzvah, the day he becomes a man. However, Bernie's family are increasingly distracted by the threat of losing their business and their wayward older son, that the scale of Bernie's Bar Mitzvah diminishes daily. Worst of all the Cup Final is scheduled to take place on the same day and when England makes it through the qualifying rounds, Bernie's longed-for Bar Mitzvah looks set to be a complete disaster.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy “Sixty Six,” but it probably wouldn’t hurt. This British movie centers on a boy preparing for his bar mitzvah at the same time that England is competing for the soccer championship in 1966. As bad luck would have it, Bernie’s rite of passage is set for the exact same day as the World Cup finals. If England makes it to the finals, will anyone show up to help Bernie celebrate? Bernie (Gregg Sulkin) has many problems besides bar mitzvah blues. Bernie’s father, Manny (Eddie Marsan), is losing the business he runs with his brother Jimmy (Peter Serafinowicz), and this adds to the stress everyone feels as the big day approaches. In her supporting turn as Bernie’s exasperated mother Esther, Helena Bonham Carter blends seamlessly into the ensemble. Stephen Rea as an asthma specialist and Richard Katz as a blind rabbi contribute juicy portrayals. But all hinges on the performance of young Sulkin, and he wears his air of sadness with just the right note of hesitant charm. Preteen years can be so awkward, especially when you're in the shadow of a bully big brother. And an obsessive-compulsive father. And a blind rabbi preparing you for your Bar Mitzvah. This is the sweet, goofy story of North London's Bernie Rubens, a non-athletic, bespectacled boy waiting excitedly for his Jewish transition into manhood. But the year is 1966 (thus, the title), and as any Brit knows, there was something else going on that year. That "something else" was the presence of the underdog England soccer club in the World Cup Final. With a final match scheduled for the same day as poor Bernie's Bar Mitzvah celebration. In director Paul Weiland's "true-ish story" (a good establishing joke there), our slight hero carefully prepares, with Martha Stewart-like precision, to finally take his place as the center of attention. But there's that pesky football squad everyone is rooting for.

I really enjoyed this movie. As Bernie prepared for his bar mitzvah i was right there beside him. It was nice to see this younger man eagerly prepare to become an adult. Then that darn soccer championship game took a hold of everyones attention. It kept me laughing and even with Helen Bonham Carter as a supporting character, I really enjoyed her here. I'm not jewish, but i wish that I was now. I want a bar mitzvah, just don't let and sports game ruin MY day. A hefty 4 on my "Go See" scale.

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