The Bread, My Sweet
Sometimes actors labor for years in venues that don't allow them to display their full range. For example, Tony Shalhoub, a character actor of seemingly limitless depth and awe-inspiring comic timing, floated in the background of Wings for many seasons. But that phenomenon doesn't apply to Scott Baio, star of The Bread, My Sweet. Based on the evidence here, Baio is still relying on the collection of blustery Chachi-isms that prompted so many girls to replace their Shaun Cassidy pin-ups. But why pick on Baio when he's just one of the film's many unsavory elements? By day, Baio's character in The Bread, My Sweet works as a high-powered Pittsburgh businessman whose job seems to consist entirely of firing people. By a little bit earlier in the day, he works as a baker in a shop shared by his two brothers, a lovable philanderer (Billy Mott) and a lovable retarded man (Shuler Hensley) who sleeps in a race-car bed in the luxurious apartment that Baio also shares. Torn between the rat race and the love of a good biscotti, Baio gets a shove in the obvious direction when the elderly woman who lives upstairs from the bakery (Rosemary Prinz) confides that she has cancer, and instructs him to take care of her one-legged husband, an old coot prone to using the word "jackoff." But Baio goes her one better by plotting a tremendous act of fraud. Setting out to marry Prinz's beautiful, ill-tempered daughter Kristin Minter (who has served as the cinematic love interest for two where-are-they-now fixtures, Baio and Vanilla Ice), he works to ensure that Prinz will witness a big fat Italian wedding before her death. As their plan progresses, Baio grows disenchanted with the corporate world, Hensley grows befuddled by Prinz's loss of appetite and starts smashing pies, and the cast members' "atsa-spicy-meatball" accents grow increasingly tiresome. Though The Bread, My Sweet is never even a little bit better than this description makes it sound, writer-director Melissa Martin's stagy, unattractive-looking film should at least get credit for going all the way with its manipulation. Why milk a dying woman for sentiment when you can also throw in a developmentally disabled gentle giant? A few years back, The Bread, My Sweet might have made for the most special very-special-Charles In Charge ever.