“Dough” is a comedy about pot and religion that’s about one week and 16 years late for it to have much resonance with Colorado audiences.
I say a week because even your most-wrecked stoner could tell you that it should have hit theaters the same week as 4/20.
And as for the 16 years? That’s how long ago “Saving Grace” opened — “Dough” cribs the widowed-weed-dealer storyline, substituting Brenda Blethyn’s housewife with Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce), an aging Jewish baker on the East End of London clinging to his shop while the rival chain next door tries to force him into retirement.
The notable difference here is “Dough” creates an odd-couple dynamic when Nat hires Ayyash (Malachi Kirby), a Darfuri Muslim who’s also selling weed on the side. A bit of green accidentally gets into the challah dough and the shop suddenly does bang-up business — money that Ayyash was supposed to be kicking back to his supplier Victor (Ian Hart).
The primary problem is that despite the inherent potential for these characters’ worlds colliding inside the bakery, the film has downright offensive levels of inoffensiveness and unoriginality.
Pryce and Kirby have solid chemistry, but the dynamics of their characters’ relationship is predictable beyond measure: Both begin suspicious of the other before the shop’s sudden success eases those fears and helps bridge the religious divide. The script exercises so much restraint, “Dough” never evens allows itself to be even a half-cocked pot comedy. Even as various imbibers of the ganja-laced goods giggle their way through dinner, the music is still the same soft, treacly piano that’s used to score the serious scenes where Nat begins to embrace Ayyash as something of an adopted son.
The temptation is to label “Dough” as your grandmother’s idea of a stoner comedy, but most nanas these days lived through the Sixties and Seventies — she may even carry a medicinal weed card and vape pen in her purse. I didn’t poll any Grammas before writing this review, but I’m willing to bet a bag of Werther’s Originals that even the most cautious of blue-haired pearl-clutchers would come away from this film feeling like it was too safe and sanitized.
The real shame is that a good half of the population these days plays it too loosely in labeling things as “politically correct.” Because “Dough” literally is the definition of a P.C. film: A feel-good story about cross-cultural discovery that never truly explores real issues surrounding immigration, faith or assimilation, only co-opting the themes as window dressing to sell a story better suited for an after-school special.
I won’t recommend you exercise your Amendment 64 rights before watching “Dough” to find out if it’s any better than seeing it sober, but it wouldn’t hurt.
“Dough” is unrated but our best guess is a very soft PG-13 for drug themes. One hour, 34 minutes. One and a half stars out of five. Opens Friday, April 29, at the Chez Artiste.