A Jew, a Muslim, and a filmmaker walk into a bar. The Jew says, “I don’t want those people in my life.” The Muslim says, “I don’t want those people in my life.” The filmmaker says, “Let me tell you a story.” “Dough” is an endearing comedy, including an amusing tone, although it isn’t really a funny movie.
This yarn presents a religious old Jew struggling to keep his life’s work afloat in a declining neighborhood. He is the “Son” of the bakery called “Dayan and Son,” as was his father before him. The rather obvious issue fodder of the story comes from a practicing Muslim struggling to be a good young man in the adopted culture to which he and his mother escaped.
Jew and Muslim become employer and employee, each with his pride and constrained options. The closest thing to a surprise in this film is the unfolding contemporary gimmick that starts to knead the story fairly early on.
The marijuana angle as with much of the writing is thin, but “Dough” still satisfies with likable characters and easy going dramatic tension. Though gruff, the old man is nice. The young man is nice. So is the mom, the landlady, the cute little granddaughter…. For that matter, the cops are nice.
Even the plot’s main bad guy is more like an opportunistic jerk than a bad guy. No, the villain isn’t the neighborhood drug pimp; it’s the businessman who wants to kick a nice old man out of his hundred-year-old bakery.
“Dough” works because we can all use a movie that feels like a way forward for decent people in a world of challenged family values and overarching obstacles. I’m quick to say that I prefer finding something special in the multifaceted chemistry, craft, and message (as well as fun) that carves a unique place for cinema in the world of art. That said, “Dough” is an entertaining, 90-minute piece of pastry.