Its low-budget seaas may show, and the mostly nonprofessional cast is ragged, but the Canadian made-for-TV movie The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick is a good, simple story filled with the one ingredient Hollywood too often misses: human warmth.
As played by newcomer Noam Zylberman, 12-year-old Max Glick is a minor- league Duddy Kravitz, a wise guy stuck in a flyspeck Manitoba plains town. His family, leaders of the town's tiny Jewish community, are getting ready for his bar mitzvah, but Max would rather practice four-handed piano pieces with cute Celia Brzjinski (Fairuza Balk). The conflict kicks into high gear when the Chicago rabbi the family hires sight unseen to prep the boy turns out to be a Hasid, a frustrated stand-up comedian, and the best thing that ever happened to Max.
At its best, the film wryly observes how every ethnic group in the melting-pot village is torn between fierce independence and the fear of attracting undue attention: the first sight of Rabbi Teitelman, with his beard, black robes, and payos, makes Max's elders groan in horror. But Rabbi Teitelman, gracefully played by Saul Rubinek, is as unorthodox in style as he is Orthodox in dress. After circling each other warily, he and Max join ranks against the closed minds of family and town.
The results are more satisfying than surprising. This is a good, small, wise movie. Ignore the uneven production values. There are things here that just can't be bought.