"“The film certainly succeeds more greatly in its emotional side rather than its comedic one…”"

In a theatrical sense, Britain excels in comedy, defining a comedic brand of wit and realism that has been received benevolently worldwide. Although it is fair to say that such success lies primarily within television. Feature-length comedies are a different matter entirely, as, more often than not; they fail to capture the pragmatism and humour that comes so fluently on the small-screen.

Few British comedies have had much of an impact in the box-office, and despite The Inbetweeners Movie being a recent exception, Reuniting the Rubins could well prove to be yet another British comedy that falls by the wayside.

It’s Yoav Factor’s directorial debut, and despite having the odd droll moment, ultimately it is a film that fails to deliver. It tells the story of widowed Lenny Rubin (Timothy Spall), who, despite being desperate to get away on a cruise holiday, is under strict instructions by his dying mother (Honor Blackman) to reunite his dysfunctional family, so that she is able to see them all together one last time before she passes away. 

The problem being, however, is that all four of Lenny’s children are entirely different from one another and in some cases, refuse to keep contact, evident in the fragmentary and astringent feud between charity worker Andie (Rhona Mitra) and egotistical business man Danny (James Callis).

The film is clearly influenced by the work of Woody Allen, as, with the family being of Jewish heritage, and youngest son Yona (Hugh O’Connor) being a Rabbi, there is an evident Jewish tinge on the film, attempting to accentuate the theme, which just comes across as being strained and artificial. It almost becomes over-the-top in that respect and becomes too Jewish. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it just feels unnatural and forced upon the film.

This is similar to the quirkiness of the feature, which also feels synthetic and put-on. It’s forcefully eccentric and unconventional in parts, highlighted in the odd scene where Lenny flies out to Africa to find his daughter, or the bizarre scenes involving Buddhist son Clarity (Asier Newman).

My other apprehension towards the film came at the lack of music played throughout the feature. It has barely any soundtrack, and the scenes blend into each other without the help of a musical composition, which, when telling a supposedly funny and moving tale, is quite beneficiary. With barely any music, it is difficult to tell which emotions are being portrayed, and how the audience is meant to feel and react. I appreciate that not all films need music, but the lack of it was apparent, and it did seem to neglect it unnecessarily, as music can often be the most powerful conveyer of emotion.

On a positive note, Spall puts in a good shift as the lead role, and as the film progresses it becomes more poignant, and therefore more enjoyable. It makes amends towards the end of the feature when family values become the main focus, as the film certainly succeeds more greatly in its emotional side rather than its comedic one.

Despite this, however, Reuniting the Rubins is ultimately a quite forgettable feature, which, although having its moments, is essentially just a passable and unremarkable film, and somewhat of a disappointing debut for Factor. However, there are glimpses of aptitude, and I believe that there is a decent director in there, so despite feeling unfulfilled by this particular movie, I am looking forward to seeing what he does next.