Joey Miller is in a pickle.
The professional party planner and DJ wants to emcee his daughter’s upcoming bat mitzvah. The drawback? He needs $20,000 in a hurry to buy equipment burned after a Jewish wedding he hosted went up in smoke.
The pressure’s on after his ex-wife’s wealthy husband has bought the teen an Appaloosa and is set to hire a substitute DJ.
What’s Joey (Jon Dore) to do? When he asks his Uncle Morty (David Paymer) for a loan, the low-level scam artist convinces him they can strike it rich by stealing and then selling Joey’s grandmother Rose’s secret Kosher pickle recipe.
That’s the story behind “The Pickle Recipe,” a light-hearted Borscht-Belt comedy that revels in stereotypes and peculiar characters. The indie film is also a Detroit affair, from director Michael Manasseri and the writers and producers to many of the actors.
Topping the list is Rose (Lynn Cohen, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”). She runs Irv’s Deli, started decades earlier with her late husband, and protects her secret pickle recipe by forbidding anyone to enter the kitchen when they’re being made.
When Joey reintroduces himself to his grandmother, she lets him work for her as an assistant busboy, where he continues his scheming to uncover her flavorful ingredients.
Joey introduces Rose to Ted, a friend and struggling stand-up comic (Eric Edelstein) who poses as a fake rabbi, and In the film’s funniest scene, takes her to see a psychic. The film features a fainting, a spell of amnesia and other zaniness.
Rose also shows her softer side in one scene, bringing pickles to a former employee in a nursing home played by real-life husband Ron Cohen.
With the clock ticking down to the bat mitzvah, Joey’s pursuit runs up against co-workers, including love interest Hana (Miriam Lee), and his conscience.
The film can be prisoner at times to its share of labored jokes and tired slapstick. The film’s climax is long and ludicrous.
Still, “The Pickle Recipe” mostly works as an upbeat comedy that has its heart in the right place, aided by an essential trace element of Jewish humor, Kosher pickle included.
2½ STARS (out of four)
DIRECTOR: Michael Manasseri
STARRING: Jon Dore, Lynn Cohen, David Paymer, Miriam Lee, Eric Edelstein
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
RATING: Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive humor and drug references.
THE LOWDOWN: A grandson who's a DJ and party planner tries to steal his grandmother’s famous pickle recipe so he can sell it and buy equipment to emcee his daughter’s bat mitzvah.