A struggling party DJ hard up for cash is enticed into stealing his grandmother Rose’s prize-winning pickle recipe in “The Pickle Recipe,” an unapologetically cornball confection of slapstick, Borscht-Belt humor and grating if earnest moralizing. Despite a solid central performance by film veteran Lynn Cohen and a Detroit setting that will please expats and current residents of the Motor City, there is little here to lift this film beyond its regional appeal.
Canadian comedian Jon Dore makes for an appealing antihero as Joey Miller, a down-on-his-luck wedding emcee who takes a job bussing tables at Rose’s deli in a scheme to discover the secret ingredients in her kosher dills, which are universally praised for their flavor, and in terms usually reserved for religious experiences.
Most of the rest of the cast deliver performances that range from the unsubtle — in the case of Academy Award-nominee David Paymer as Rose’s conniving estranged son — to the wide as a barn door — in the case of Eric Edelstein as a stand-up comic who masquerades as a rabbi in order to sweet-talk Granny out of her pickling formula.
Written by Sheldon Cohn and Gary Wolfson, the film opens at a country club wedding reception, where, in response to a guest’s complaint about the “terrible” pickles being served, her dining companion concurs, adding, “And they hardly give you any!”
Never mind that you probably first heard that joke 50 years ago.
If you still find that kind of material funny, you may find yourself complaining that “The Pickle Recipe” is only 97 minutes long.
PG-13. At Landmark’s West End Cinema. Contains brief suggestive humor and drug references. 97 minutes.