'Jewtopia' to open N.B. Film Festival

March 30, 2012|By Sarah Peters

Turn up the "klezmer" — that's Yiddish for music — the opening night of the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival is going to be quite the shindig.

"Jewtopia," staring Ivan Sergei, Joel David Moore and Jennifer Love Hewitt, kicks off the 13th year of the annual festival with its world premiere at 7:30 p.m. April 26 at Edwards Big Newport.

"We are extremely proud to open the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival with the world premiere of 'Jewtopia,'" festival Chief Executive Gregg Schwenk said in a prepared statement. "The film, based on the highly popular play, is a comedic and satirical look at relationships and relations.


"Our gala following the premiere will present 30 of the top restaurants from Orange County and a special performance of 'Million Dollar Quartet.' An evening not to be missed."

The film, directed and co-scripted by Bryan Fogel with business partner Sam Wolfson, also stars Jon Lovitz (a UC Irvine alumnus), Rita Wilson, Tom Arnold, Peter Stormare, Camryn Manheim, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Wendie Malick, Nicollette Sheridan, Phil Rosenthal, Christine Lakin, Hayes MacArthur and Lin Shaye.

It follows Christian O'Connell (Sergei) and Adam Lipschitz (Moore) as two childhood friends who hatch a comedic plan to help Sergei's character marry a Jewish woman played by Hewitt. Along the way, the characters undergo struggles surrounding love, family and ultimately what it means to be happy.

"It doesn't matter if you're Jewish or not — it's the universal theme of finding love," Fogel said. "It's about doing what your family wants you to do versus doing what you want to do."

Fogel likened the film's broad appeal and romantic comedic elements to other humorous films such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Wedding Crashers."

The film's screenplay is an adapted version of the stage play, which opened in Los Angeles in 2004 to sold-out audiences for more than 300 shows over a 16-month period, according to the Jewtopia website.

However, while inspired by the stage play, the dialogue, interaction between characters and plot line in the film is all its own, Fogel said.

"The same kernel of the idea, and the same kind of comedy that made the show so successful, is in the film," Fogel said. "But, it's in a much bigger sense in that the film has a much bigger cast and there were things we could do in the film that we couldn't accomplish on stage."

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles