The Arty Semite

‘Last Vegas’ Just the Beginning for Dan Fogelman

By Curt Schleier

If Dan Fogelman were any hotter, he’d have planets revolving around him. Fogelman is the screenwriter behind such hits as “Cars” and “Tangled” and “Crazy Stupid Love.” He’s also creator and producer of ABC’s “The Neighbors,” the subversively intelligent and subversively Jewish comedy.

ABC/PETER "HOPPER" STONE

He’s also in post-production of his first directing effort, “Imagine,” a film starring Al Pacino as Danny Collins, a successful but aging musician.

Fogelman does aging well. November 1 marks the release of his latest effort, “Last Vegas.” It’s about childhood friends — they call themselves the Flatbush Four — now all of Medicare age, who decide to throw a party in Vegas when the bachelor in their group announces he’s getting married — to a woman in her 30s.

It stars Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro and Kevin Kline. And while on the surface it might appear that the film targets seniors, at a recent screening filled with mostly young people, it has the entire audience laughing throughout. It will almost certainly be the comedy hit of the year.

Fogelman recently spoke to The Arty Semite about how his parents influenced his films, being the Hebrew School class clown and how his bar mitzvah screenplay started his career.

Curt Schleier: How did “Last Vegas” come about?

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One Bad 'Guilt Trip'

By Curt Schleier

Paramount Pictures

It’s difficult to decide who to hold responsible for the new Barbra Streisand/Seth Rogan film, “The Guilt Trip.” There is plenty of guilt to go around.

Andy Brewster (Rogan) is a chemist who developed a natural cleaning product from renewable resources. He’s sunk his last pennies into the project and has been making the rounds of large retailers hoping to sell it.

He’s about to go on one last cross country sales trip before throwing in the towel. After flying to New Jersey, Andy is staying at his mother’s home and plans to leave from there on the eight-day journey. At the last minute, he invites his widowed mom, Joyce (Streisand), to accompany him.

And there you have the template for what no doubt was intended to be a heart-warming voyage of discovery, where mother and son find common bond and understanding. But “The Guilt Trip” breaks the mold — and not in a good way.

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Out and About: Israeli Music for Syrian Protestors; The Shame of Playing Shylock

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images
Patrick Stewart will play Shylock in a new production by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • The Independent takes a look at Habonim, the Socialist Zionist youth group that was once home to Mike Leigh, David Baddiel and Sacha Baron Cohen.

  • The Brooklyn Rail revisits the work of Russian Jewish filmmaker Dziga Vertov, on the occasion of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

  • Israeli singer Amir Benayoun (profiled in the Forward here) has recorded a CD in Arabic that has been passed on to Syrian protestors.

  • The shame of Shylock: Patrick Stewart, Anthony Sher and others tell what it’s like to play Shakespeare’s most infamous role.

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