Viewers of the 2007 Academy Awards may recall the amusing clip for the live-action short winner, "West Bank Story."

A musical parody of West Side Story, it followed the plight of a lovestruck Israeli soldier and the beautiful Palestinian who works at the hummus stand across the barricades. In a few fleeting minutes of song and dance, it accomplished everything that Jay Jonroy's David and Layla sets out to do in a charmless, laborious 105 minutes.

Call it My Big Fat Kurdish Wedding: David (David Moscow) is a Brooklyn TV host whose show, Sex and Happiness, asks people on the street about their love lives.

When the beautiful Layla (Shiva Rose) sashays by in her hijab, he tries to interview her. She begs off. They meet again, and so begins a tentative romance, with David's fiancee (Callie Thorne) understandably upset in the wings.

But here's the real problem: David is Jewish, Layla's an Iraqi Kurd, a Muslim; her parents and boyfriend were gassed by Saddam. All sorts of cultural, religious and familial barriers stand between the pair, as do an awkward script, amateur acting and clunky camera work.

It's admirable when the folks behind a romantic comedy try to address some of life's more daunting issues, and bringing two people together from religious backgrounds with a history of epic conflict certainly fills the bill.

But David and Layla isn't going to solve any problems - it's got way too many of its own.

David and Layla *1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Jay Jonroy. With David Moscow and Shiva Rose. Distributed by NewRoz Films.

Running time: 1 hour, 45 mins.

Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (adult themes)

Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse


Writer/director Jay Jonroy, an exiled Iraqi Kurd, will appear at the Ritz at the Bourse to discuss his film today at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and tomorrow for the 5:10, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.