Release Date: January 20th, 2006 (IFC Center) by IFC Films.
The Cast: Ethan Embry, Kylie Sparks, Julie Hagerty, Judah Friedlander, Mary Birdsong, Martin Campetta, Alexis Dziena, Cosmo Inserra, Nikki Michelle James, Joey Kern, Jesse McCartney, Michael Charles Roman, Miriam Shor.
Directed by Mark Christopher.
BASIC PREMISE: Before she turns 18, Cara-Ethyl (Sparks) befriends Matt (Embry), a slightly older pizza deliveryman.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Pizza feels slightly undercooked. Within the first five minutes, overweight 17 year-old Cara-Ethyl wants to join Matt on his pizza delivery route. Why? Because she’s about to turn 18 at the crack of dawn and wants to have new, fun experiences. Writer-director Mark Christopher strays from the standard teen comedy by just having sexual references without showing anything. Not surprisingly, Cara-Ethyl, who prefers to be called Cara during her adventure, becomes more than just an observer. She interacts with Matt’s friends, learns how to sing, and even confronts his ex-girlfriend-turned-prostitute (Shor). Some teen movies about alienated teens, like Ghost World and Mean Girls , find the right balance of quirky comedy and drama. However, when Pizza changes from one tone to another, it ends up feeling awkward and unrealistic. Moreover, it suffers from aimless characters in an mostly aimless plot. At least the plot could have had more at stake rather than that Cara’s about to turn 18. Perhaps there could be a prom coming up? Cara’s mother (Hagerty) has gauze pads on her eyes during her brief, unfunny scenes, so she has no idea what’s going on with Cara or who’s at the doorbell. Her younger brother constantly squirts her with a water-gun. You know that the screenwriter is really desperate to make you laugh when he resorts to juvenile fart jokes in the silly, predictable third act. Matt and Cara are both mildly interesting characters when they interact, but the screenplay makes them rather cartoonish and dull. Kylie Sparks does her best to add charisma and comic energy as Cara. It’s also refreshing to watch Ethan Embry in a low-budget digital film, but he doesn’t really have much material to consider this a giant step upward in his career. Pizza would have been more engaging if the two would talk more about their background and really get to know one another for a change so that you can easily care about them as human beings.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Pizza shares much of issues with Mean Girls , especially when Cara tries to join the small crowd of popular girls during one of the pizza routes. Popular kids are not as special as they think they seem—they have problems like everyone else, but just know how to hide it better. Cara clearly needs more love and attention in her life, so tries to get from Matt. What about her mother? If only she could take off her gauze pads and actually talk to her alienated daughter. By the time Cara changes her outlook on life, it’s difficult to believe that she’ll continue thinking that way. She’s still a teenager, which means that she has a long road ahead of her before she truly matures. Some people don’t mature until much later in life, while others might never mature. At least during her one night out with Matt, she got a brief glimpse of how challenging adult life can be.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A meandering and thin plot, an awkward mixture of comedy/drama, and not enough character development.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: A well-meaning and ocassionaly insightful, but not enough plot or character development to be engaging, touching or funny.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "P" Menu