At Pizza Shop, the employees hate their job but they love tormenting the customers. Everyone except veteran delivery driver, Pete. His fellow Pizza Shop employees hate Pete's sunny disposition and belief in customer satisfaction that they decide to try and get him to quit. After a prank goes terribly wrong, the battle line is drawn. Head-slacker and Pete's arch rival, Jason, face off to not only see who the better man is but who gets to stay at the Pizza Shop.
"Pizza Shop: The Movie" is the feature film debut from Arizona indie filmmaker, George O'Barts, who takes on the slacker-comedy genre with his debut. In the movie, we follow a group of pizza delivery drivers who are more interested in tormenting their customers, and each other, above anything else. Everyone except Pete. The straight-laced veteran who genuinely believes in customer service, and as a result, his fellow Pizza Shop employees hate him. After a prank goes to far, Pete faces off against his arch rival, Jason, to see who is the better pizza delivery man and who will leave Pizza Shop for good.
While comedy is unquestionably the most objective genre in film (who's to say what's funny), it is still one of the hardest genres to tackle for any filmmaker because it takes everyone involved to make it work. Because of that, I always cringe a bit when I know I'm going to be watching a comedy from a first-time filmmaker because those kind of movies always tend to be the roughest, for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is one of those rough early features due to both the comedy and acting falling flat. Surprisingly though, the writing behind "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is solid for an early feature. Slacker-comedies tend to be a by-the-numbers sub-genre, ever since "Clerks", but I think George O'Barts found something interesting to focus his attention on. On a technical level, the story works because, tonally, it fits perfectly into its style -- we've all had the first job where all we wanted to do was to fuck off -- and it gets from Point-A to Point-B without losing its direction. Then there are the characters, who actually do help in moving the film along but also the things that they do -- their motivations and actions -- makes sense in relation to the story. And by-golly there are actual arcs to the characters as well. Who would have guessed people knew how to write those parts of the script anymore?
I honestly do find that surprising since it's usually the writing that suffers in these early films because they don't address those small details, like character arcs and if character motivation make sense in the grand scheme that is the story. Take "AVGN: The Movie" as an example of how poor the writing can be (that movie is just awful) and how detrimental it is to the quality of the final product.
As I said, the writing in "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is fairly exceptional for what kind of movie it is. I could even see the humor and the jokes in the writing to a point that I think the movie could still be funny. What kept the jokes from working is the delivery and the timing of the material. Two of the most important things when it comes to making jokes work. Ask any comedian and they'll tell you this. I hate to pick on the acting with low-budget movies, but because most of the actors are stiff and flat in their performance, their attempt at delivering the jokes also comes off as stiff and flat. Ultimately it's what hurts the movie the most.
I find it hard to say "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is bad because I wasn't bored while I watched it and I wasn't frustrated or angry with it (unlike "AVGN: The Movie"). Secretly I was rooting for the movie because it was taking on a tough genre for a debut title. Thankfully, the writing was there and I could see the sincerity and enthusiasm behind the movie from George O'Barts. I think it simply might have been the inexperience from both the director and the performers that kept the comedy from working like it really needed to. As it stands, "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is more of a middle ground movie: could be better, could be worse. Then again, maybe there is an audience for the movie that will find it hysterical since everyone will find different things funny.