Originally a popular off-broadway play, the movie version of Jewtopia opens in theaters around the country this weekend. The film is all about… you guessed it… being Jewish! In Jewtopia, Ivan Sergei plays a man who meets the girl of his dreams, but when he finds out she’s Jewish, he lies and tells her that he’s Jewish too. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know a thing about the Jewish culture, so he tracks down an old friend (Joel David Moore) to teach him how to “act Jewish.” Let the mishegas ensue! So what does it mean to “act Jewish” and what the heck does it take to find lasting love anyway? We sat down with two of the film’s stars, Ivan Sergei and Jon Lovitz, to find out!
JMag to Jon Lovitz: Jewtopia is full of Jewish stereotypes, which are heightened in the film for humor’s sake. What do you think of the clichés in the movie and did you, as a Jewish man, identify with any of these stereotypes?
Jon Lovitz: Jewish people are known for their humor. They can laugh at themselves. They’ll start laughing at all the clichés – we’re goodhearted people and we mean well, but many of the clichés are true for a reason! There’s this scene where Ivan’s character is on a date with his dream girl, Alison (Jennifer Love Hewitt). They’re ordering in a restaurant and then they change everything on the menu, saying things like, “Can I get it like this? And can I change this?” It’s funny because it’s true.
Ivan Sergei: A lot of these clichés are universal. There are a lot of people – whether they are Jewish or not – that can relate to this movie. It could be an Irish family, it could be a Greek family, the point is that the annoying outcome of a cliché, like parents loving their son so much that they’re being overbearing, usually stems from how much they love their son.
Jon Lovitz: We put family first. That’s a cliché about the Jewish people – and we’re not the only people who do that, but we are a culture that does that. I think the clichés were definitely heightened, but I think a lot of it was based on truths. It was accurate in a sense that Rita Wilson and I play a married couple who love their kids to death, and at the same time, drive them nuts because of it.
JMag to Ivan Sergei: In the movie, your character lies to the girl of his dreams in the hopes that she’ll fall for him. Do you think a relationship based on a lie can ever work?
Ivan Sergei: I think all relationships are based on some sort of lie because you’re putting the best representation of yourself out there when you first meet someone. But no, eventually you have to be yourself. Ultimately, if you’re not being yourself, you’re going to be found out sooner or later. And then what’s the point of even getting into a relationship with somebody? It’s not going to work out and two years later, or three, or even ten years, it’s just going to end.
JMag to Jon Lovitz: “Be yourself!” That’s pretty good love advice. Jon, what advice would you share with JDaters?
Jon Lovitz: Be honest and just don’t try to change the person you are with. Just accept them – the good and the bad – as they are. You either accept it, or you don’t and move on.
JMag: The characters in this movie are struggling to find love. Perhaps they just should have joined an online dating site!
Ivan Sergei: Well, it’s all about where your priorities are in your life. If your priority is to get married and have a family, then JDate would be a great way to meet a lot of people who have the same interests.
JMag: Hmmm… good advice! We may just have to make Ivan Sergei one of our new dating coaches!