Movie: Operation Grandma

If you’ve got an hour to kill, a decent Internet connection, and are looking for a good laugh, you could do worse than watching the Israeli comedy Mivtza Savta. When I was in Israel and mentioned I was giving a talk about kibbutz cinema, several people smiled and said, “Have you seen Operation Grandma?” Shown on Israeli TV in 1999, the movie has become a cult classic—a wicked satire about military machismo and kibbutz life. 
I thought I’d never be able to track down a copy in Canada, until I found it yesterday streaming on Google Video. The English subtitles are erratically spelled but at least they explain some of the more obscure Hebrew puns, Arabic profanity and cultural allusions.
The screwball comedy features three brothers who grew up on the fictional Kibbutz Asisim, in the Negev Desert, founded by their deceased parents: Edan, the youngest, is a nebbishy nature guide for a kids’ camp; Benny is an indebted techno-savant whose girlfriend is an aspiring judo champion; and Alon (nicknamed Krembo, because he once ate all the famous chocolate treats intended for the kibbutz’s Purim festival), is a semi-psychotic IDF commando planning a secret mission to Gaza who has moved back to the kibbutz as an “external inhabitant” and is infuriated that they won’t give him his own fridge. 
The premise: after their grandmother—who has been moved by the kibbutz into an old-age home far to the north in Netanya—dies, the three brothers need to organize a post-haste military operation to claim her body and bury it at Asisim as quickly as possible: so that Alon can fulfill his own secret mission in Gaza, Benny can install enough TV cables to earn his monthly bonus and make his next rent payment, and Edan can organize the “fire parade” with his disgruntled, switchblade-wielding campers. Think Mission: Impossible meets Weekend at Bernie’s.
Of course, their plan quickly goes off the rails and the corpse gets lost along the way (actually, it gets confiscated as a potential explosive), while other obstacles—including Dvora, the over-sexed and bureaucratic kibbutz secretary, and a techno-mad Swiss volunteer in charge of making the coffin—conspire against their attempts to give their grandma a final (and fast) send-off on the kibbutz.
The movie is quick-paced, over the top, and very, very funny. There are some in-jokes and references about kibbutz life (while never mentioned, it seems that Asisim has been privatized), but the comedy is broad and low-brow enough for almost anyone to enjoy. And I can understand now why it became such a campy cult classic of Israeli cinema.