In Honor of These Gold Medal Worthy Olympic Parents: A Few of the Best Jewish Parents in Film

08/11/2016

With all eyes on the Olympics happening now in Rio, it's not always the athletes that take center stage. The internet has fallen in love with Jewish Olympian Aly Raisman's parents.

As her mother said in a piece with People, “I get nervous because I know what goes into it and how many hours she’s prepared and how hard she is on herself, and I want her to be happy and go out there and do the best performance she can do,” she said. “So when it’s over, she is happy no matter the results, so I do get nervous. But whatever she was doing I want her to have the best outcome.”

We're sure the same can be said of most if not all Olympic parents. In that spirit, we wanted to take a look at some of the most supportive Jewish parents in film.

Armand Goldman in The Birdcage

The 1996 film, directed by Mike Nichols, features one of Robin William's best performance as Armand Goldman. Armand's love for his son is what sets into motion the hilarious comedy that ensures. When his son essentially tells him that his way of life will not only embarrass him but ruin his chance at wedded bliss, Armand turns his life upside down to make his son happy at the cost of whatever harm it may do his relationship, business, and self-worth.  

As said in this New York Times review, "The Birdcage might seem an odd occasion to find Mr. Williams playing things straight, but this is one of his most cohesive and least antic performances. It's also a mischievously funny one: he does a fine job of integrating gag lines with semi-serious acting, all the while modeling a delirious, silky wardrobe with the emphasis on nightmare prints." 

Jim's Dad, Noah Levenstein, in the American Pie Series

We're fairly certain anyone raising a teenager warrants all of the medals life has to offer but as Jim's dad in American Pie, Eugene Levy brings a sweetness and stability to what otherwise is a series of standard raunchy teen comedies. As his son, Jim, experiences some of the more embarrassing trials that teen life has to offer, his father, instead of judging or shaming him, continually goes out of his way to relate to circumstances we're fairly certain no one else can relate to, or perhaps more accurately, no one would ever care to admit.

Says Levy of the character, "I love the character and I’ve loved the character since the first movie. I actually had a hand in developing the character since the first movie; we did make a lot of alterations before we shot the first movie that I wanted to see. I could play the character forever. When I first read the script the character read as a little crass. The father was trying to be more of a friend to the son than a Dad. So I wanted him to be the good old-fashioned, square, embarrassing Dad who will do anything that he can to help his kid and that’s what I wanted and I think that’s what we ended up with.” We'd agree.

Judy Stein in Kissing Jessica Stein

The 2001 American independent romantic comedy film, written and co-produced by the film's stars, Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen is based on a scene from the 1997 off-Broadway play by Westfeldt and Juergensen called Lipschtick. The film stars Westfeldt as Jessica Stein, a Jewish single who, upon not finding much success dating men, meets a woman she loves. The question is, as a friend or more? The film's two leads give admirable performances but it may be Tovah Feldshuh, as Jessica's mother, Judy Stein, who steals the show.

As said in this EW review, "In the past decade or so, Tovah Feldshuh has taken a lot of roles in the category defined by dramaturges and Yiddishists as baleboosteh – part peerless homemaker, part professional ball of fire – in characters ranging from high-powered defense attorney on Law & Order to Catskill mama in A Walk on the Moon. But I’ve never seen Feldshuh steal the show so completely and definitively as in one scene in Kissing Jessica Stein where the Jewish-mama act is dropped and real loving connection takes place between mother and daughter. It’s a scene so unlike any other in this skim-decaf-cappuccino cup of cinema that it actually throws the rest of the movie into disarray – a scene in which an older actress says, "Okay, girls, you’ve got the frothy lines, but I’ll show you some hot stuff.”