Shalom Life | May 13, 2014

TJFF Review: ‘Hunting Elephants’

Shalom Life reviews the hits Israeli comedy starring Patrick Stewart and Sasson Gabai

By: Ilan Mester

Published: May 10th, 2014 in Culture » Film » Reviews

Some movies rely on the talent of the actors to bring in the laughs. Others count on witty one-liners and funny scenarios. And then there are films, like the laugh-out-loud comedy Hunting Elephants, that are lucky enough to have both.

The hit Israeli comedy featuring veteran actors Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Treck: The Next Generation) and Sasson Gabai (The Band’s Visit, Rambo III) stars Gil Blank as a 12-year old intellectually gifted misfit. After Jonathan (Blank) witnesses the death of his security guard father, his mother, Dorit (Yael Abecassis), is left in a tricky situation.

Even though Jonathan’s father died while on duty, the bank he worked for refuses to give his family any insurance money. As such, Dorit scrambles to find someone to watch her son in the evenings while she works. And due to Jonathan’s lack of friends, the only person she can think of is his estranged grandfather, Eliyahu (Gabai), who lives in an old folks home.

At first, the grumpy senior and his equally reserved grandkid butt heads. However, with some time and a little help from Eliyahu’s buddy Nick (Moni Moshonov), the duo connects and becomes fast friends.

So how does Patrick Stewart factor into all this? The veteran British actor plays… a British actor. More specifically, Lord Michael Simpson (Stewart) is the brother of Eliyahu’s comatose wife. He’s sort of the black sheep of the family – a failed actor who finds himself heading to Israel after his illegally-produced play (a horrendous production called Hamlet, Revenge of the Sith) gets uncovered.

Following a not-so-warm welcome from Eliyahu, Michael decides to help his brother-in-law and great nephew rob the bank “that killed” Jonathan’s father. It’s a win-win situation: the penniless Brit could certainly use the money and Jonathan is keen on getting back at the bank and its manager (Moshe Ivgy), who’s now dating his mom.

Stewart steals every scene he’s in as the affable Michael, but make no mistake – the Israeli cast holds its own. Hunting Elephants features countless laugh-worthy scenes, mainly involving its veteran actors. Some of the jokes (like ones about Viagra and aging) fall flat and seem a bit dated. That being said, the movie is definitely worth checking out.

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