Synopsis: An old Jewish baker struggles to keep his business afloat until his young Muslim apprentice drops cannabis in the dough and sends sales sky high.
Release Date: May 6, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
An old Jewish baker and a young Muslim drug dealer might seem like an improbable duo, but that’s who’s at the center of Dough.
The old Jewish baker in Dough is named Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce from Something Wicked This Way Comes), and his kosher bakery in London is slowly being run out of business by his competition, a big-box market run by the ruthless Sam Cotton (Philip Davis from Mr. Holmes). When Cotton hires Nat’s apprentice away from him, Nat has little choice but to give the job to a neighborhood Muslim boy named Ayyash (Jerome Holder from “The Story of Tracy Beaker”), who takes the position as a “cover job” so that he can sell marijuana. One day, Ayyash accidentally spills his stash into the dough and it gets baked into the bread – and the challah starts flying out of the store. Unbeknownst to Nat, Ayyash keeps lacing the baked goods, and the shop’s business continues to boom, even as Cotton tries to woo Nat’s landlord, Joanna (Shirley Valentine‘s Pauline Collins), into selling the building to him. For the time being, the shop is making a ton of money, but Ayyash knows that they can’t keep a step ahead of Cotton, the police, and his supplier (to whom he owes money) forever.
In essence, Dough is the most unlikely buddy movie ever. Directed by John Goldschmidt (Maschenka) from a script written by Jonathan Benson and Jez Freedman (the first feature film from both), the movie tells the story of a reluctant friendship between two people from different races, religions, ages, and economic classes that is born not out of need for companionship, but out of a genuine care for each other. At first, Nat is skeptical that Ayyash is worthy of his time and effort, but soon enough, the movie becomes Nat and Ayyash against the world – the film references Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a couple of times, and that’s not too far from what audiences get from the strange pairing.
Now, Dough is not all fun and games. The second half of the film gets a little dark as things gets serious between Nat and Cotton and between Ayyash and his supplier, and the movie stops being cute and starts getting a little more real. It’s a tonal shift for sure, but it’s not too jarring, because the film was never exactly a feel-good comedy to begin with.
There’s nothing in Dough that hasn’t been done before, and done better. There’s the old businessman who is resistant to the younger helper. There’s the evil empire who’s breathing down the hero’s neck to take over his territory. And there’s the million dollar idea that, while illegal and unethical, saves the day, at least until the enemy wises up and finds a way to thwart it. Dough is built on archetypical characters in stock situations. Sure, there are social messages about tolerance of religion, happiness winning out over greed, maybe even a little bid for the legalization of marijuana, but all of that is reading too deeply into it. Just enjoy Dough while you’re there, and forget about it as soon as you leave the theater.
There are some funny moments in Dough, but they’re a little too few and far between. Most of the humor is derived from the stoner elements of the film; the funniest scene involves a family dinner in which the weed-infused challah is being consumed and the diners all tell jokes back and forth. The jokes are horrible, but the way they tell them and their reactions are hysterical – the audience laughs at their laughter, not at their jokes. For stoner humor, it’s all pretty clean – this is not Dazed and Confused, after all – but the funny parts are pretty funny. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more of them.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): John Goldschmidt
- Producer(s): Wolfgang EsenweinGyörgy GattyánJohn GoldschmidtAndrás Somkuti
- Screenwriter(s): Jonathan BensonJez Freedman
- Cast: Jonathan Pryce (Nat)Philip Davis (Sam Cotton)Jerome Holder (Ayyash) Pauline Collins (Joanna)Ian Hart (Victor Gerrard)Malachi Kirby (Shaun)Daniel Caltagirone (Stephen Dayan)Joel Beckett (PC O’Ne)Ben Bishop (PC Marsh)Andrew Ellis (Lucas)
- Editor(s): Michael Ellis
- Cinematographer: Peter Hannan
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Stewart Meachem
- Casting Director(s): Celestia Fox
- Music Score: Lorne Balfe
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: UKHungary