(rainey) from WOODLAND HLS, CA
Reviewed on 1/4/2008...
This is the third in Barry Levinson's series of vaguely autobiographical movies referred to as the "Baltimore Trilogy". It tells a charming story of a boy growing up in a large immigrant family.
Through the film Levinson explores what the experience of coming to America as an immigrant and becoming fully accultured over the course of 3 generations is like. He plays this theme out in a large cooperative Old World style family that begins to break down as some members acculturate faster than others. Over the course of events the size of the extended family greatly reduces and then becomes a nuclear family. Because of the warmth of the story and the characters you can really feel the tradeoff of the richness of a tribe for the independence of the smaller American family life.
A parallel story demonstrates the power the advent of TV had to change both family and community life.
The acting is superlative and makes every character memorable. Aiden Quinn, Joan Plowright and Amin Mueller-Stahl are extraordinary. Elijah Wood, Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Pollak are also terrific. They pull you into this story that resonated for me even though I have neither the Eastern European nor Jewish heritage that are at the heart of it. Still, if you can't relate to family dynamics and some of the costs of modern life you must have a heartsting missing.
All in all, I'd say this is funny, thought provoking, charming, and touching.
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