Indie Comedy Review: “Pizza Shop The Movie” (2013) — Don’t Ask What’s in the Sauce
“Pizza Shop the Movie” (2013) is the kind of movie that is best served with beer and — yes — pizza, rather than “some fava beans and a nice chianti.” No, it is NOT a film that Hannibal Lecter would love, except maybe for its serial killer theme. Raunchy and irreverent, it is pure camp: utterly — and intentionally — tasteless. It could be described as the bastard child of “Jackass: The Movie” (2002) and “Mystic Pizza” (1988). As in the latter, there is a competition story similar to that of Kat (Annabeth Gish) and Daisy (Julia Roberts). As in the former, it is full of half-brained stunts and gross-out gags.
Early in the film, Jason (Cian Patrick O’Dowd), the most gnarly of the slacker delivery drivers at the pizza shop, retaliates against a rude customer by making him a “special” pie, complete with sauce flavored with his own fresh excrement. This scene, which leaves nothing to the imagination, might seem gratuitously scatological, but in fact it is central to the story-line, which basically involves a conflict between the shop’s driver-trainer, Pete (Robert Bielfelt), an overzealous company man and suck-up, and the other drivers — especially Jason.
Pete drives the rest of the drivers crazy with his insistence on following the rules, so they take advantage of him every chance they get. Finally, they decide to get rid of him, devising a prank that involves Pete’s most unpleasant life experience, which involved being friends with a serial killer. They think he will quit after they pull it off, but the cruelty of this joke makes Pete snap — he realizes that he’s almost 40, has no friends, and delivers pizza for a living. In short, he wakes up to the fact that he’s a loser.
After that, it’s “no more Mr. Nice Guy,” as Alice Cooper sang — Pete becomes a “super-Jason,” cheating the other drivers at every turn and thinking of nobody but himself. In a final gambit to get rid of him, Jason challenges Pete to a pizza-delivery contest: the winner gets to stay, but the loser has to go. After the contest is over and the loser prepares to leave, everything seems settled — that is, until the disgruntled customer reveals that he’s going to deliver samples of his “special” pizza to the Health Department. The team of drivers must pull together for one more crazy, jackass operation to stop him, save their jobs, and avoid jail time. Can they pull it off without getting caught or killing each other in the process?
This independent film, which was written, directed, and produced by George O’Barts, will not appeal to everyone. It is a no-holds-barred, over-the-top, utterly shameless, gross-out comedy — all the time. Just when I thought it could not get any more disgusting, it did. Moreover, the story is based on worn cliches and tropes from similar low-comedy movies. There is little original about the characters, situations, or dialogue. The cinematography and sound are average.
For the some of the same reasons, though, it is a whole lot of fun to watch. It actually plays more like a web-series compilation than a movie; if the viewer watches it with this expectation in mind, he or she will enjoy it more. Although the story drags and the acting is a little off in the first act, the plot picks up steam and the cast finds its footing by the second act. The complications that arise from what appears to be a first-act red herring lead to a fairly funny ending in the third act.
Moreover, anyone who has ever worked in a pizza shop or had any other restaurant job that involves delivering food to customers will probably recognize a lot of personality types (co-workers, bosses, and customers) and personal, food-service employee pet peeves when they watch this movie. Those who have not had such a life experience will probably decide to eat home-cooked meals for awhile. All who watch this movie will want to do so with their favorite alcoholic beverage (or other intoxicant of choice) close at hand because it is a film that must be watched in an altered state.