Review: ‘Pickle Recipe’ serves up light-hearted laughs

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“The Pickle Recipe” is as cute and light as it sounds. “Schindler’s List” it isn’t.

Jewish, on the other hand, it is. It delights in stereotypes, makes all sorts of oddball turns, and rotates around a delightful performance by 83-year-old Lynn Cohen (most recognizable from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Sex & the City”) as a classic Jewish grandmother.

Cohen plays Rose, proprietor of a famed Detroit deli known for the pickles she makes with a secret recipe. She’s estranged from her son Morty (David Paymer), a weaselly type who’s always involved in some scam or another.

Rose also has a grandson, Joey (Jon Dore), by her late, lamented daughter. Joey is a party planner and DJ. Or at least he was; in the opening scene we see a marriage celebration go terribly wrong and all of Joey’s equipment gets destroyed. He needs $20,000 to get back into business.

So he turns to his Uncle Morty. Morty doesn’t have that kind of cash on hand, but he does have an idea. If Joey can steal Rose’s pickle recipe, they can sell it to a big corporation and they’ll both be rich.

So Joey reintroduces himself to Rose in a scene that’s pretty funny (Rose has a taser. “I know people,” she says). Eventually she lets him come to work at the deli, as an assistant busboy. Meanwhile, Joey and his goofball friend, Ted (Eric Edelstein), come up with numerous wacky schemes to get the recipe.

Look, you can see where all this is going in the first 15 minutes, but getting there is plenty of fun. And the film pauses for a sweetly sincere scene in which Rose goes to visit a former employee in a nursing home, played by Cohen’s real-life husband Ron. It’s the sort of interlude that makes the rest of the wackiness — a psychic, a fake rabbi, a botched break-in — more endearing than grating.

This is almost wholly a Detroit-area production, from director Michael Manasseri to writers Sheldon Cohn and Gary Wolfson, to the producers and many of the actors, and it captures an upbeat, comic energy that’s not often associated with the city in film. “The Pickle Recipe” is probably the best indie comedy to come out of this area, but more importantly, it’s good, goofy fun.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.


‘The Pickle Recipe’


Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive humor and drug references

Running time: 97 minutes