Friday, July 11, 2014

On DVD and Amazon streaming: first-time film-maker George O'Barts' PIZZA SHOP THE MOVIE

Time to view and cover another of those movies in which a query arrives via email asking "Would you watch my film?" This time the request comes from a new filmmaker named George O'Barts who is based (or at least his film was shot there) in the Phoenix, Arizona area -- making this the second film of the week to take place in Phoenix. (See Underwater Dreams, for the first.) I've had to say no to more of these requests than I've said 'yes' to over the past few years, so I hope those other filmmakers will forgive me. There's just way too much on all of our plates these days.

Mr. O'Barts, shown at right, has put together a odd little film, super raunchy and semi-barf-inducing at its beginning and end. As the movie's tag line (shown above) has it That's not just sauce on your pizza. Clearly taking its lead from that incident that happened at the diner in the movie Road Trip, O'Barts goes for the gold by retrieving the magic ingredient from the toilet bowl, mixing it with some actual pizza sauce in the blender, and then spreading it over the pie of a guy who refuses to tip. That's the beginning. The ending practically blinds us, as this same non-tipper does some projectile shitting directly at the camera's lens. Erich Rohmer is probably spinning in his grave, thinking, Why didn't I try that?" Still, as an advertisement for a certain cigarette used to tell us: It's what in between that counts.

So how does the remainder of PIZZA SHOP THE MOVIE hold up? Not as bad as you might imagine. For the most past it places those big-time gross-out effects only at the beginning and end. The middle is a kind of late-in-life coming-of-age comedy the takes our hero, a 39-year-old pizza delivery man named Pete (Robert Bielfelt, shown above, far left), and forces him to confront who he is and how he appears to his co-workers: a by-the-book, goody-two-shoes who makes those co-workers feel bad about themselves. Consequently, they get their revenge in various ways, the funniest of which has to do with Pete's previous relationship with a serial killer.

Along the way we get to know a few of the Pizza Shop's leading customers, including the usual misogynistic use of women characters. The one female on-staff is Jenny (Chelsea Breibart, above), a young woman given to tantrums, whose favorite trick is to knee her boyfriend in the balls. What a gal!

Also in the cast are a set of twins who, except for their haircut, look little alike (I'm not sure if this is meant ironically or exists simply for budgetary reasons); Jason, the movie's prime asshole; the Pizza Shop owner and his two wives (below); and his second-in-command, who mostly stands by the phone and takes orders. For the most part the dialog sounds rehearsed rather than lived, and the timing of its delivery is almost always just one beat off for maximum comic effect.

At 97 minutes, the movie is at least 20 minutes too long. Still, there are some laughs to be had here -- particularly for those looking for the grossest kind of humor -- and Mr. Bielfelt's performance is actually pretty good. When the worm finally turns, you'll have sympathized enough to turn along with him.

Initially, the DVD of Pizza Shop The Movie, was available for purchase only at $20 a pop -- a price that I could not countenance having my readers plunk down for something like this. Fortunately, the film is now available for rental via Amazon Instant Video for just $2.99 -- a cost much more in keeping with our trying economic times. 

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