If chicken soup could kill ...
"The Imported Bridegroom," a low-budget folk romance directed by a history professor from Boston, is schmaltz thick enough to choke Molly Goldberg. Set in 19th-century Beantown, the story concerns a rich Polish emigre's attempt to marry off his Americanized daughter to a pious bumpkin from his old village.
Eugene Troobnick knocks the Fiddler off the Roof with his outsized, oy-is-me portrayal of Asriel Stroon, a wealthy retired real estate agent who begins to worry about his place in Heaven. To atone for his many sins, Asriel returns to his village to ask for heavenly intervention at his parents' graves. On this nostalgic pilgrimage he acquires a rabbinical prodigy -- whose support is a bona fide ticket to paradise -- as a bridegroom for his saucy daughter, Flora.
Greta Cowan doesn't just chew the scenery, she makes a meal of it as a wailing, flailing proto-American princess who expects to marry an American doctor. She will have none of the frumpy Shaya (Avi Hoffman), with his droopy coat and his horrendous accent. But Shaya, sweet as sticky buns and innocent as a drooling baby, presses his suit, inevitably winning his temperamental fiancee's heart. And Flora, who has yet to realize her own intellectual potential, solves her future by secretly turning Shaya into a doctor.
Though terribly acted and woefully directed by Pamela Berger, this story by Abraham Cahan manages to survive on its own merits. Alas, Berger, who also wrote the screenplay, has nearly buried it under a mountain of cloying looks and ethnic tics and Yiddish theatricality. It makes "Crossing Delancey" look positively goyish.