#97 – Little Italy

italy 1So….it’s been a bit of a month, hasn’t it? Between work, and making sure that both Older and Younger Son do their school work while sitting on the couch, coming up with interesting things to have for dinner based on how picky everyone is, and a general feeling of panic around every corner, I’m exhausted. Friday I found myself teaching violin. Have I ever played violin? Nope – I played the flute, the fife, and the piano – all equally bad. But times being what they are, we do what we need to do.

And what I need to do right now is see if Hayden Christensen is an actor who just needs a better script and a better director to turn in a good performance, or if he is just a plank of wood with blue eyes. I found this gem on Prime, and just realized it’s an hour and 41 minutes – that’s quite long – but I’m determined to push on. I sat through Revenge of the Sith a few days ago and the forehead acting was seriously painful, but not as bad as the dialogue. We are, instead, going to watch Little Italy, which is basically Romeo & Juliet with pizza. (There WAS a Hallmark version of this a while ago, but this one isn’t it.  If anyone cares, THIS was it)  AND I’m watching this while Older Son is practicing his trumpet.

italy 13
HC in Revenge of the Sith – you can see the beginning of the forehead acting right here!

This movie also stars Emma Roberts and Alyssa Milano, and is set in, you guessed it, Little Italy, which honestly really doesn’t look like the Little Italy I know about in Manhattan. There’s a joint narration of both our lead actors, while they have a “we were kids” background. Their fathers were best friends running the “best” pizza joint in the neighborhood. Alyssa Milano is Emma Roberts’ mom, and Danny Aiello is Hayden’s grandfather.Emma’s family has the sauce, and Hayden’s family has the sauce. Emma’s character is named Nicky, and Hayden’s is named – um, not sure yet. Anyway, it’s idyllic, and they are up for “Best Pizza” at the San Gennaro festival (which seems to be the only Italian festival in NYC).

Flash Forward to LONDON – Nicky works as a chef under Jane Seymour – who is described as a prettier, scarier, Gordon Ramsey. Nicky has a chance to win a job at a Mayfair Fast Casual restaurant, but in order to do so, she has to go home, and redo her visa. And Jane Seymour drops a bomb – she has to go back to CANADA – so this whole Little Italy takes place in Toronto? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Hayden’s character is named Leo – and he stayed home in FREAKING CANADA, and we find out that the two families have fought since the flashback – and now there are 2 pizza places next to each other, italy 9 and they are feuding, feuding, feuding. Leo is telling his dad they have to modernize, and it’s like he told his Italian dad to put English cheddar on the pizza.  Both pizza joints have Indian co-workers, whom you KNOW will get together at the end. So far, HC is … okay. He’s very loose in the role, which is nice after being so uptight as future Darth Vadar, but he’s not setting the world on fire – that being said, this is a movie about a pizzeria. Do you really want that to be set on fire? True story, in my hometown, the owners of the “posh” Italian restaurant that was next store to the only pizzeria in town blew up their restaurant in the 80s for the insurance money, thereby robbing a small NJ town of pizza for almost a year.

Nicky comes home from London in a big hat. They head to the bar where Leo works. Their eyes meet and music starts, but you know they’re gonna hate flirt till they kiss. And after 2 shots, Leo challenges Nicky to a soccer match. Nicky has two very thirsty female friends who are mildly inappropriate for a movie what both Older and Younger Son have decided to watch with me. But now they’re playing soccer in the rain, and doing shot when either of them miss. It’s in slow motion, and there are a lot of spectators who don’t seem to mind to be watching in the rain until there’s thunder, which is good, because Leo goes in for the kiss, and then Nicky passes out. italy 11

I cry foul that the first male butt we see in this movie is Leo’s pal Luigi, a large Chinese guy who acts Italian. Nicky wakes up in Leo’s bed, and thinks she had sex with Leo, but no, Leo was a gentleman.

Both mothers hide wine in the hanging baskets of fake gerber daisies that separate the two pizzerias.

Nicky hasn’t told her family she’s only home for a visit, and not to stay. Her family immediately makes her eat pizza. italy 5 And Nicky’s family did something to the pizza at Leo’s place – marijuana looks like oregano after all. And Leo is getting seriously sexually assaulted by the cops who came to break up the pot party.

Jesus is everyone in this movie hot for each other? Andrea Martin, Nicky’s grandmother, is in love with Danny Aiello, and they just met each other in a confessional at a Catholic church.

Nicky shows up at Leo’s house, just as Lisa, a flight attendant and Leo’s sometime girlfriend. Nicky gets jealous of Lisa, which, seriously girl, you’ve been gone for five years. But even though Lisa is probably naked already in Leo’s apartment, Leo still asks her out for dinner the next night.

At Luigi’s bar, both fathers meet up to insult each other and hate boast about their children. It is SO bad and so dumb. Cut to the old people, who cannot meet up in a confessional anymore, are now sitting in a Starbucks freaking out over a caramel macchiatto. italy 8

Cut to Nicky’s parents’ backyard where they are grilling. Alyssa Milano comes in saying she almost forgot the nice cannolis. Dad gives her a kiss and then says, here, take the gum (apparently she’s got bad breath) leave the cannolis. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I wonder HOW long it took the writers of this to put that in there. And Alyssa Milano’s character has just invited some kind of sleezy Italian stereotype to keep Nicky back in Canada. Ew, stereotype just sniffed her shoe.

She’s at Leo’s house, and he’s making her dinner – yes, it’s pizza – that she just put FIGS on top of. WHAT? He lives in a dive apartment that has a pizza oven. They are flirt pizza baking. I’ve been really comfort baking these past few weeks – today I made a lemon drizzle cake and a loaf of Italian bread. But apparently this pizza is good, even with freaking figs on it.

Andrea Martin is back at church in front of a very jankety statue of Our Lady. And Danny Aiello is totally proposing to her right in front of the statue, and even though Andrea Martin looks at him with heart eyes, she says no.

Leo has a rooftop garden that is populated with lamps.


He has a desire to open an organic pizzeria. Seems weird. Now they are dancing across from each other and I do not get it, but they are so in love with each other, you guys, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for Nicky to say “I should go.”

Poor Andrea Martin, squeezing tomatoes and pining for Danny Aiello. Danny Aiello is giving love advice to Leo, while Leo cooks his revolting fig pizza. And Danny Aiello just said “You can take the girl out of Little Italy, but you can’t take Little Italy out of the girl.” WRITERS – I’m staring at you disapprovingly over the tops of my glasses right now.

Everyone freaks out over figs on pizza, and yet Hawaiian pizza is totally being made fun of.

Andrea Martin is back at the Starbucks and she’s had like 8 caramel macchiattos. She’s trying to drown her sorrows in coffee, and Danny Aiello shows up and seems to be quoting John Lennon or something to get back in her good graces, by stating that he wants a home for the two of them where they can watch The Bachelor in bed together. Regardless of how dumb that sounds – because the true test of marriage is watching Dateline and then finding out what happened at the end because your husband stayed up to watch it while you dozed off – they love each other and get engaged.

Leo climbs a ladder to deliver pizza to Nicky in her bedroom. It’s a heart shaped pizza. Next day, they both jump on a vespa and go riding through the San Gennaro festival, eating gelato and exploding eggplant with firecrackers. They also rode through a fire hydrant and now they are back in Leo’s apartment all “I gotta get out of these wet clothes” and now we’re in for a sex montage because ha, this is NOT your friendly Hallmark movie, it’s on Prime.  italy 10

Oh, wait, it’s not a montage, it’s a fade to black, and then fade in on Andrea Martin and Danny Aiello. That’s not upsetting.

Jane Seymour FaceTimes in the afterglow, reminding Nicky that she needs to do her job, and asking her if she’s been “shagging” and if there is a penis more pressing than her restaurant in Mayfair, and quite honestly, that’s funny.

Leo doesn’t know she isn’t back to stay, and she casts it up to him that he’s had a lot of girlfriends in the past five years, and she’s now going HARD into The Sad Times. Let’s see what Leo does in his own Sad Times, because I really hope we don’t get a return of forehead acting.

Old people arrange a family dinner at “Korma Sutra – a Sensual Italian Restaurant” (with a bunch of Indian carvings on the wall) where both the Montagues and Capulets sit down for a curry and they announce that Andrea Martin and Danny Aiello are seeing each other. And the tired feuding old men get freaked out, and it comes down to letting the “Best Pizza” contest in the San Gennaro festival decide who has the Best Pizza, and whoever doesn’t have the best pizza has to leave. But because tired feuding old men aren’t allowed in the contest anymore, they have to have Leo and Nicky enter instead. And Nicky says, “I’m a chef, I don’t do pizza.”

Because that’s not insulting to her entire family. But then it gets more insulting and Nicky is way more into The Sad Times.

Leo confronts his best friend Luigi about the fact that he’s really Chinese, because Luigi is his Sassy Friend who tells Leo that he’s in love with Nicky – and then we find out that Luigi is gay, so he’s extra Sassy.

This movie is taking way too long.

Pizza Competition Time. round One – they have 10 minutes to make pizza. Leo is making proccioto and melon pizza, and who knows what Chef Nicky made. But of course, they both make it to the finals, where they have to make a Pizza Margharita.  Nicky is rolling the pizza dough with a pin. I feel like that’s wrong.

italy 3The winner is Leo, because of course it is, and because we know that Nicky switched the sauces underneath the table. And then Leo makes a statement about the whole thing, but Nicky misses it because she already took a taxi to the airport. But Leo hightails it to the airport in a Vespa (which he leaves at the front entrance of the airport in clear violation of all those 9-11 rules).

But Nicky keeps getting stuck in the metal detector – just in time for Leo to make a heartfelt declaration to her from the steps overlooking the security line.

AWWWW Gay Luigi just had a meet cute with the gay Security Guard! Sassy Friends DO find love! We also discover the source of the feud (and it’s dumb) and then everyone realizes they’re being supremely dumb, and then the Angry Security Lady takes back control from these weirdos and starts moving people through the line again.

Everyone is happy and in love, and flash forward to a new restaurant owned by Leo and Nicky – it’s the wedding reception of Andrea Martin and Danny Aiello, and Gay Luigi caught the bouquet. Jane Seymour shows up and loves the pizza and wants to franchise, and the Indian sous chefs get to dance with each other, and everyone loves each other and east dessert pizza. The end.

Ok. I’ve seen this movie before in the Hallmark version, and although that one was probably filmed in Canada, it did pretend to be the US. Looking at all this pizza, now I want pizza, but we’re having lemon pepper chicken with angel hair pasta tonight. I wonder how good Canadian pizza actually is – I’m spoiled by living in NJ, where the best pizza in the US is (shut up Chicago, that is NOT pizza).

Did we answer the question : Is Hayden Christensen a good actor or not? – I think so. I think he’s … not bad. He needs a lot more help than he was EVER given in the Star Wars Prequels, and it helps when he’s not saying corny-ass dialogue like “I can overthrow the chancellor.” There was very little forehead acting in this, although a lot of forehead wrinkling, making me believe he’s a lot older than he was playing as Leo. If you’re looking for a good performance of his, go see Shattered Glass.

Was this movie good? Meh. But since we’re stuck in the house, what else are we going to do – especially now that allergy season is here on top of everything else. It was a nice diversion while my bread is baking and keeps me from wondering why my Lemon Drizzle cake didn’t rise that much – unless it’s supposed to be half the size of the loaf pan? Anyway, doesn’t matter. We’ll eat it later. And besides, that’s not the point. The point is, I watched Little Italy, just so you don’t have to.



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