The Bread, My Sweet

Set in Pittsburgh's Italian-American community, this independent feature by Melissa Martin is a rich but regrettably lumpy pastry, with moments of genuine drama redeeming an almost defiantly hokey plot. Scott Baio is excellent (no, I'm not kidding) as the hero, a handsome go-getter who divides his time between a high-paying job as a corporate raider and his little biscotti shop in the city's Strip District. Holding down the shop are his two brothers, a hulking retarded man (Shuler Hensley) and a slick lothario (Billy Mott), and living above it are the former owners, an elderly Italian couple who seem to have stepped out of a Prince spaghetti commercial. After Baio discovers that the wife is concealing a terminal illness, he tracks down her long-absent daughter (Kristin Minter) and persuades her to marry him for a few months to make the old woman happy (no, I'm not kidding). Rosemary Prinz, a veteran stage actress making her feature-film debut, elevates this three-hanky premise with a sensitive performance as the dying woman; less effective is John Seitz as her husband, a thundering but supposedly lovable curmudgeon. 105 min.

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