This is the sort of movie you’d like to say nice things about—a lightheartedly heuristic tale about a Jew and a Muslim falling in love and overcoming the objections of their families to find happiness. Sadly, “David and Layla” is so clumsily made that even its hopeful message can’t make it go down pleasantly.
David (David Moscow, who once played the young Tom Hanks in “Big”) is a nice Jewish boy who hosts a local TV show dealing with the joy of sex but is himself unhappy in love, finding his longtime girlfriend Abbey (Callie Thorne) increasingly irksome. While doing interviews on the street with his world-wise cameraman, he’s attracted to the exotic Layla (Shiva Rose), who initially brushes past him without a by-your-leave.
Of course his persistence eventually pays off, but the infatuation gets him into trouble. Layla, it happens, is a Kurdish refugee whose immediate family had been killed by Saddam Hussein and who’s now living with her uncle and aunt (Ed Chemaly and Anna George). Her only income comes from doing traditional belly dancing, and her ability to remain in the country depends on her marrying an American citizen. But the prospective husband will need to be a Muslim—and David, hardly observant, is willing to convert. That, however, won’t sit well with his parents (Peter Van Wagner and Polly Adams).
“David and Layla” is helped by some nice chemistry between Moscow and Rose, but the supporting characters are almost all stereotypical sitcom figures—including David’s younger brother who (of course) is gay, and Layla’s earthy but wise grandmother—and they’re played that way. Gags involving such “naughty” subjects as vasectomies are also introduced for easy laughs. The result is that while Jay Jonroy based his script on the experiences of an actual couple, it never feels authentic.
Add to the mix a production on the dingy side, and you have a film that certainly means well but whose delivery never matches its message.