A surprisingly audacious film, Dough tackles an interesting undertone of racism, cultural acceptance and drugs in a lighthearted comedy with a sprinkling of drama. When it focuses on the challenging questions it asks about society it works really well, challenging the usual tropes associated with drugs in particular. Unfortunately, there’s no denying that the generic story with its bland, villainous bad guy and rushed climax, just never feels like anything other than average.
Dough tells the story of a failing bakery and its prickly Jewish owner who refuses to adapt and accept change in order to begin thriving as a business as his loyal customers begin shopping elsewhere. Widowed and depressed, Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) begrudgingly takes on a muslim apprentice, Ayyash (Jerome Holder) whose side-gig of selling marijuana to help his immigrant mother, inadvertently gets in the dough and sends sales sky-high overnight. More a drama than a comedy per se, the film has a good pace to it but the generic tropes you’d expect from a film like this are all present which is disappointing, especially for a film that challenges the status quo.
Its worth noting at this point just why Dough deserves praise for the way it tackles some of its themes. With so many films hammering the message about how bad and destructive drugs are, Dough defiantly leaps in the opposite direction, showcasing the positive effects the drug can bring rather than the negative. Families come together to laugh and share tales, people are happier and free of worries that hang over them and there’s a lighthearted glee to these scenes as the oblivious customers gobble down the treats. Although the message might be a little too accepting of drug use, given its still illegal and the film fails to explore some of the negative effects of cannabis use, it’s still incredibly bold to portray it in this way and go against the status quo and for this alone, Dough deserves to be applauded.
The film does also touch lightly on cultural acceptance and with Jewish and Muslim faiths showcased here, it’s not only a refreshing change of focus and one that works well to drive the message of working together regardless of race and cultural differences. This, coupled with the commentary around drugs are the two stand outs from a film otherwise mired in mediocrity.
Overall, Dough is an interesting film and one that gets extra marks for breaking the status quo and trying something audacious and different. The story is disappointingly generic though and the climax does feels rushed but its bold defiance to challenge some of the themes around drugs and race is reason enough to praise the film for trying something different. Its just a pity that despite its best intentions, Dough fails to rise above the average film it falls into.