One more entry in the beaten-to-death teen comedy genre, Pizza succeeds in breaking the mold for the most part. In the end, though, it fails to deliver.
On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, eccentric, overweight Cara-Ethyl (newcomer Kylie Sparks) throws herself a party that nobody shows up to. She even pretends to be another guest so that her temporarily sight-challenged mother, hilariously played by Julie Hagerty (Airplane!, Lost in America), won’t feel sorry for her. Enter the pizza delivery guy, Matt (Ethan Embry, Can’t Hardly Wait, Empire Records), a thirty-something slacker who used to be Mr. Popular in high school. Seeing the state of affairs at Cara-Ethyl’s “party”, he decides on the spot to take her out on his delivery rounds. This is where the film, despite trying to gain it back with some tender and realistic moments, loses all credibility. A pizza delivery guy would never succeed in the business as long as Matt has if he were to take what seems like an hour-long break to go change clothes and freshen up during his shift, as Matt does after picking up Cara-Ethyl. The sole purpose of this stop seems to be to introduce us to Matt’s boorish roommates, one of which walks around naked all the time. Hilarious, right? Actually, the comedy in this scene – and the many other escapades our two heroes embark upon throughout the relatively (but mercifully) short 81-minute running time – is more subtle than in the teen comedies of recent years (the American Pie films, Road Trip, et al.), and for this the viewer should be thankful. The unrealistic overall premise, however, takes away from the individual scenes, which are actually quite realistic and well-acted by the two leads. Their on-screen chemistry seems to grow as the film progresses, which I guess is the point.
Writer-director Mark Christopher (54) should have spent more time fleshing out the script and less time trying to figure out how often he could use the annoying transitional spinning pizza graphic. While the dialogue is quirky and on point, the set-ups and situations written into the story are quite lame, or at least under-developed. Why would a slacker who is quite satisfied in his skin want anything to do with Cara-Ethyl in the first place? It seems like Pizza‘s outer layer (its crust, so to speak) was clumsily put together as a container for its inner layer, which contains not enough meat, too much cheese.
The best part of the film is Hagerty’s performance as Cara-Ethyl’s mother, who spends every moment on screen effectively blind, due to the eye patches she has had to don after a doughnut-frying accident. This brief flash of comic genius shows that Pizza‘s makers had something promising, had they worked harder on developing this bittersweet coming-of-age story. Instead, what they have delivered is a stale Pizza.
There are only two features to speak of on this disc, which really could have been one feature.
“A Slice of Pizza” is billed as a making-of featurette, but is simply comprised of a few scenes from the film with a commentary track from writer-director Mark Christopher.
The feature commentary from Christopher and producer Howard Gertler is more of the same and serves to simply narrate the story, with a few tidbits thrown in regarding the actors and some situations that occured during filming.
The film is presented in a matted widescreen and was okay, nothing special. The same goes for the sound, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The material doesn’t necessitate any more than that.
The point of this film is that your path to self discovery can be found in the most unlikely of places, but Pizza‘s ingredients aren’t enough to make for a satisfying meal. The thing is, though, that every thirty minutes or less, there was a great scene or humourously delivered line of dialogue that kept me watching, hoping for the promise of a good film to realize itself.