When it was released in December 2005, Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” — the story of the Israeli agents tasked with assassinating those responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre — was criticized in some corners of the Jewish world for what was seen as lily-livered progressivism or, worse, downright hostility to Israel.
The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier wrote that that the film was “soaked in the sweat of its idea of evenhandedness,” and that its “mechanical symmetries” came perilously close to “the sin of equivalence.” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, took matters a step further, arguing that the film “libels” Israel and humanizes Palestinian “haters and killers.” Klein ultimately urged a boycott.
In the spirit of sweaty evenhandedness, it should be noted that “Munich” also had its Jewish defenders. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman called the portrayal of the film’s Israelis “humane,” adding that “they are struggling with issues the world is struggling with today.”
That said, there was not one commentator who saw in the film a tale of Jewish heroism. That is, until now.
Early in Judd Apatow’s new comedy “Knocked Up,” leading man Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is at a bar with his zhlubby band of heym-boys. “You know what movie I just saw again the other day, which is just [expletive] mindblowing,” he says: “‘Munich.’”
“‘Munich!’” the posse cheers.
“That movie has Eric Bana [Israeli team leader Avner Kauffman] kicking [expletive] ass,” Ben continues. “Every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed. ‘Munich’ flips it on its ear. We’re capping [people].”
“Not only killing, but taking names,” a friend chimes in.
“If any of us get laid tonight,” Ben says hopefully, “it’s because of Eric Bana and ‘Munich.’”
Not to give too much away — see the movie, it’s a hoot — but, as the film’s title might indicate, one of the boys does see some action that night. Whether or not the lucky girl had seen “Munich” is left an open question.