David & Layla: A Multiculti Mishmash

Jay Jonroy, an Iraqi Kurd now living in New York, has had two close relatives end up in Saddam Hussein's mass graves. This is more suffering than anyone should be asked to endure, but with admirable perversity, Jonroy decided to make a romantic comedy based on the love between an American Jew and a Kurdish Muslim woman whom the writer-director met in Paris. Given the wild intractability of the Middle East mess, just about any manifestation of conciliatory spirit is more than welcome. But though it's hard not to be infected by the good humor and sheer joie de vivre of David & Layla, the movie is better suited to a sitcom slot on television than to the big screen. Charting the courtship of a Kurdish Middle Eastern dancer (the charming Shiva Rose) by a Jewish public-access-cable talk-show host (David Moscow, mugging unto exhaustion), the movie throws in cartoonish disapproving parents on both sides, an embarrassing stereotype of a gay brother (for maximum diversity), sight and sound gags galore, and an endless stream of awkward situations as David goes through the motions of converting to Islam for his bride-to-be. His pants split at the tush while bowing before Allah—you get the picture. (Note: Jonroy will conduct Q&As following the 7 p.m. screenings Friday and Saturday)

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