Go for Zucker

Runs at Grand Illusion, Fri., Aug. 4– Thurs., Aug. 10. Not rated. 90 minutes.

I’m all in favor of guilt, but the Germans have really done enough in that department over the past six decades. That country embraced this strenuously madcap but not fatally disjointed 2004 comedy about a disgraced former East German TV host (Henry Hübchen)–turned–pool hustler, awarding it six German Oscars (whatever that means). Fallen on hard times, Zucker finally owns up to his Jewish heritage only in order to win his dead mother’s estate away from the synagogue. Not only are his almost estranged wife and positively estranged kids unaware of his Semitic background, they soon become better fake Jews than he when his Orthodox brother and family arrive. Hübchen is a fairly irresistible hustler (he also narrates the film, though he begins it in a coma), who scatters polite notions about ethnic identity and propriety like so many pool balls. Anyone who’s ever pretended to know all the rituals or mumbled through the words of a Seder should be able to relate to his good-natured hoax. Zucker is pretty broad and farcical, and the up-tempo polka-style music does get annoying, but you’ve got to root for a guy willing to fake a heart attack at his mother’s funeral for the sake of a big pool match. BRIAN MILLER