by Isaac Sweeney
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Doughboys has an engaging plot and a lot of charm. But the main characters - you know, the ones we’re supposed to care the most about - aren’t really that interesting.
Lou (Louis Lombardi) and Frank (Gaetano Iacono) are large bakery-owning brothers in the Bronx. They inherited the bakery from their father. Strangely, the father provides the voice over for the movie, which means he has to be voicing over from the afterlife since he’s dead. Lou has a gambling problem and owes money to Mr. Gregerio, an evil-sounding man with greasy hair. Growing impatient, Gregerio gives Lou until 8 p.m. to pay $100,000 or he will take the bakery. There’s also a little bit about Frank and his wife moving to Florida with a baby on the way, but that subplot doesn’t really go anywhere.
Lombardi directed and co-wrote the film, and he’s better in those aspects. His performance is flat. His face and body show little emotion. His voice is monotonous. His actions are predictable. Iacono looks and sounds rehearsed much of the time, but he shows signs of life at times. A scene where Frank discovers Lou’s gambling debt is memorably realistic because of Iacono‘s reaction.
That said, Lombardi’s direction is not bad, and the writing is actually decent. Maybe he just took on too many hats. The flashbacks are particularly enjoyable, with little life lessons being passed from father to sons, brother to brother, always in the quaint bakery.
It’s the bakery’s charm and its quirky customers that really carry this movie. Creative opening credits give a tour of the bakery, with its small tables perfect for espresso and its large ovens that churn out pastries. A few montages of customers are refreshing, but the bakery’s regulars are a necessity. There’s the cliché-loving man covered in cat hair. And there’s the old fellow with his espresso and radio at the small table outside. Sally Boy (Andrew Keegan) is the bakery’s delivery boy who has a small bout with selling drugs. All of these characters, with advice or action, help Lou come to his necessary character shift, even if it isn’t a very epiphanic performance on Lombardi‘s part.
Isaac Sweeney is a writer and educator in Virginia. Read his blog at http://www.wayswithwordsonline.com.
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