The Festival of Lights with a Badass Side
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because there’s more to the holiday movie library for adults than sappiness and Elf.
By Anne Miller
Can an orthodox Jewish stud and a leader of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front save Hanukkah from Santa Claus’s evil son?
Mixing the imagery, sounds and style of blaxploitation cinema with Yiddishkeit, The Hebrew Hammer, released 10 years ago, remains one of the few (perhaps only) live-action holiday films for so-called Members of the Tribe. Hanukkah is already a little goofy this year, as the start of the holiday coincides with Thanksgiving —Thanksgivukkah, if you will, an event that won’t happen again for another 7,700 years, give or take a millennium. So why not include a visit from ”the baddest Heeb this side of Tel Aviv” too?
Hanukkah is already a little goofy this year, so why not include a visit from ’the baddest Heeb this side of Tel Aviv’ too?
Hanukkah celebrates the upstart rebel Jewish Maccabees triumphing over the ruling Greeks, and the sacred oil that burned long enough for the Jews to make more oil and consecrate their ancient temple. So perhaps it’s fitting to celebrate the modern holiday with an upstart Jewish cinematic hero.
The Hebrew Hammer includes a relatively well-known cast. Adam Goldberg, an oft-token Hollywood Jew, takes the starring role. Andy Dick plays the villain, Mario Van Peebles plays hero and his father, Melvin, makes an appearance too. The move played Sundance, then Comedy Central and had a limited theater release in December 2003.
This is not a film for those possessed of delicate sensibilities — slurs abound. But since it’s Jews and blacks making the jokes, it’s OK, right? (Don’t look at OZY, that’s paraphrasing a line from the movie.)
There’s a sequel in the works: The Hebrew Hammer vs. Hitler. Director and writer Jonathan Kesselman says financing is wrapping up now, with a campaign on the Jewish Kickstarter, Jewcer.com, exceeding its goal. Filming should start in the first quarter of 2014, with the movie out late next year or early 2015, he says.
But as the world waits for the man who put the bad in Cha-bad to fight another round, we still have the orginal to keep us toasty on these cold holiday nights. Snagfilms has the whole megillah if you want to watch online.
“Happy Chanujewkkah!” says Kesselman.