Friday, March 29, 2013

A Wallflower Turns into a Swan


“Dorfman in Love” a Rom-Com for Jewish Girls

By Skip Sheffield

“Dorfman in Love” is a “check flick” with an offbeat heroine and a target audience.
Deb Dorfman (Sara Rue) is a single, 27-year-old woman stuck with the thankless task of caring for her depressed, recently widowed father Burt (Elliot Gould) while working as an accountant for her arrogant, manipulative brother Dan (Jonathan), who takes advantage of her. The only joy in Deb’s drab life in the uncool part of Los Angeles is her imaginary love affair with Jay (Johann Urb), a good-looking, vain, globe-trotting TV journalist who also takes advantage of her.
You may be wondering where are the laughs so far? Unless you find Elliot Gould endless kvetching amusing, there are precious few.
The catalyst for change in Wendy Kout’s (“Mork & Mindy,” “Anything but Love”) script is Deb’s temporary role as cat-sitter for unappreciative Jay. He lives in an unfurnished converted industrial building in a dicey part of L.A. Jay has never really unpacked his belongings, let alone decorated his huge apartment.
Deb takes it upon herself to surprise Jay by refinishing his living space. She accomplishes this with the help of a hunky neighbor who calls himself Cookie (Haaz Sleiman). Cookie is a dark, swarthy chap originally from Egypt. Deb is Jewish, with all that implies. Though she initially resists, Deb finds Cookie’s charm irresistible, much to the chagrin of his very New York Jewish father and her dishonest, conniving brother.
Cookie inspires Deb to do a makeover, and a swan begins to emerge. Compared to the petty, selfish characters around her, Deb is a princess who deserves her prince.
Yes, “Dorfman in Love” is a fairy tale aimed at, but not restricted to Jewish girls. It is nice to see Elliot Gould doing his comic shtick again. Sara Rue is quite appealing in an unconventional way, as is Haaz Sleiman handsome and gallant rather than the typical unflattering Arab stereotype.
Directed by 27-year-old whiz kid Brad Leong, who made his Tribeca Film Festival debut at the unprecedented age of 21, “Dorfman in Love” is a slight but ultimately rewarding pleasure.