Bernie Reubens (Sulkin) Bar Mitzvah clashes with the 1966 World Cup final. While he plots against the England team, his parents Esther and Manny (Bonham Carter and Marsan) struggle to cope with Mannys obsessive compulsive disorder and the failing family
Overprotective mothers and nebbish intellectuals may be big news in the States, but Jewish comedy has never taken off over here. The closest thing to a British Annie Hall is, let’s face it, Maureen Lipman’s classic BT adverts.
But Paul Weiland’s film avoids the contentedly neurotic approach of its broader US cousins by focusing almost entirely on overlooked 12 year-old Bernie as his Bar Mitzvah approaches. Based on Weiland’s own poorly-timed ceremony in 1966, this works in no small part thanks to the appeal of newcomer Gregg Sulkin, but leaves other characters standing on the sidelines while he plots and casts voodoo spells against the England team.
Produced by the low-budget arm of Working Title that made Billy Elliot, Sixty Six aims for the same bittersweet tone but stumbles en route. It rarely leaves its comfort zone, preferring to point vaguely at issues rather than tackling them directly, which is sweet but less than satisfying. And despite incorporating elements of Weiland’s father’s battles with OCD in Manny, it trades in all the build-up for a last-minute happy ending that’s disappointingly rushed.
“That’s the thing about being Jewish,” says Bernie, “you haven’t got a foreskin so you need a lot of balls to make up for it.” Despite plenty of spark, it’s a shame Sixty Six doesn’t fully live up to this promise.
An entertaining 90 minutes, but more an enjoyable friendly than a world-beating final.