A long night's journey into day. On the eve of her 18th birthday, talkative and rotund Cara is invited to accompany a pizza delivery guy, Matt, on his rounds. It's a night of firsts for her - first job, first beer, first cigarette, first dance. How will she handle it? And, what about Matt - good-looking, single, unattached, and 30? Why would he want to include Cara? She's intrusive and vulnerable; he's under-employed and protective. Is there life after pizza? Written by
An Odd Couple's Haphazard Night of Pizza Deliveries
Seven years after his ambitious attempt at depicting the high life of the mid-70's Manhattan disco scene in "54", writer-director Mark Christopher has come back most modestly with this elliptical low-budget 2005 coming-of-age comedy that seems to be a cross between a 1980's John Hughes movie and "Napoleon Dynamite". It actually plays out a bit like a teen version of Martin Scorsese's "After Hours" as it follows two disparate characters on an all-night adventure hinging on a series of pizza deliveries. The focus is on a lonely overweight girl, Cara-Ethyl (obscurely named after Irene Cara and Ethel Mertz from "I Love Lucy"). A social outcast forced to make up an imaginary friend to appease her temporarily blinded mother, Cara-Ethyl celebrates her 18th birthday with lots of food but no one to share in the festivities.
Enter Matt Firenze, a thirty-year old failed political activist with his own pizza delivery truck and a prolific track record with women but little else to show for himself. He feels sorry for her plight and invites her on his runs for the night. While Matt attempts to give her lessons on self-acceptance, Cara-Ethyl inevitably experiences deeper feelings that lead to revelations about both their lives. The idea is sound if rather unoriginal, but Christopher's off-kilter, episodic approach feels contrived for all the wrong reasons in spite of a smattering of well-earned laughs. Kylie Sparks certainly gets all of Cara-Ethyl's eccentricities and precociousness down pat, but her character is conceived in ill-fitting clichés over how an awkward, friendless teen finds her identity. As Matt, a cast-against-type Ethan Embry has moments of resonance, but he mainly appears to be channeling Matthew McConaughey's laconic slacker in "Dazed and Confused". The two leads never seem to gel since the contrivance of the situation is too overwhelming.
Familiar faces show up in the supporting cast - Julie Hagerty with her eyes excessively bandaged as Cara-Ethyl's not-so-clueless mom, Marylouise Burke (Paul Giamatti's drunken mother in "Sideways") as Aunt Grandma, and Alexis Dziena (Sharon Stone's oversexed daughter in "Broken Flowers") as a hairball-producing tart. The film clips by quickly at eighty minutes, and I have to admit some of the music used was entertaining - a karaoke number from "Bye Bye Birdie", Lulu's throaty voice on "To Sir With Love" in a strangely disco-oriented club, and Embry's plaintive guitar number. With middling picture quality due to the digital filming, the 2006 DVD has a few extras worth noting. With some help from producer Howard Gertler, Christopher provides unobtrusive commentary on an alternate track and on an eight-minute featurette about some of the scenes.
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