‘Little Italy’ review: More like cheesecake than pizza

The clichéd poster of Donald Petrie’s ‘Little Italy’ is already an indication of the cheesy tropes that will be served throughout the film.

There’s no secret recipe in Little Italy. It’s one of those whimsical romcoms trying to make a comeback in Hollywood using a classic formula. You can easily compare it to the far superior Crazy Rich Asians – another romcom that banks on food and culture, except the latter has more heart and context, rather than just being an assembly of overdue tropes and saccharine dialogue.

“There’s a reason they call this place ‘Little Italy,’ it’s because nothing ever changes here,” we hear the voices of Nikki (Emma Roberts) and Leo (Hayden Christensen) narrating their fairytale childhood – or what could have been a snide remark to the film’s non-progressive take of the genre. The story takes place in a small town in Toronto where all the elements surrounding it are so caricature, the whole place might as well be fictional. To get the most out of it, you’ll have to surrender to its escapist charms.

The childhood sweethearts haven’t seen each other for many years, but the two will have to navigate a slow reunion/courtship as they’re caught in the middle of a ludicrous food feud between their respective fathers Sal (Adam Ferrara) and Vince (Gary Basaraba), both of whom are claiming to have the best pizzeria in town. There’s a “Romeo and Juliet” template here. The two discreetly rekindle their relationship by doing some bazaar shopping and candle-lit dinners, trying out new spices for Leo’s dream restaurant, playing soccer in the middle of a rain, and all that romantic stuff. While here I am, wondering how wide is the age gap between these two actors.

Hayden Christensen and Emma Roberts in ‘Little Italy.’ Photo via Entertainment One,

Never mind that Leo has a girlfriend – the film seems to have forgotten that little detail along the way. If the two star-crossed lovers admit to their dads how they really feel for each other, then maybe they can end this senseless family conflict. But Nikki has already made a career in the city and she can only stay for so long. With a film that’s so formulaic and predictable, it should not be a surprise to you that it all boils down to a last minute profession of love in an airport.

To compensate for an uncompelling central love plot, the film entertains you with two outlandish families pulling hijinks at each other – the results can be a hit or a miss. The two dads have a weekly insult contest while their wives try to get a hold of them. Their secretly in love grandparents engage in millennial activities. And as for the exotic spices, we also have Indians playing stereotypes (cue in the curry references), and a wacky Chinese best friend who seems to be having the most fun here.

Little Italy is clearly stuck in the ranks of early 2000 romcoms – it jams most of its clichéd ingredients in the oven and simultaneously fails to make something fresh out of it. The resulting chemistry between Roberts and Christensen is no fine dining material, but rather an afternoon snack that will otherwise satiate the tastes of hopeless romantics looking for schmaltzy fun. If you’re a sucker for these types of films, feel free to knock yourself out. As far as I’m concerned, this is just reheated pizza.

On a different note, the pizza that I’m eating during this film’s advance screening (courtesy of “Big Guys Pizza”) has more of the sumptuous “yum” that I’m looking for.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Donald Petrie and written by Steve Galluccio and Vinay Virmani, ‘Little Italy’ stars Emma Roberts, Hayden Christensen, Alyssa Milano, Adam Ferrara, Gary Basaraba, Linda Kash, Andrew Phung, Cristina Rosato, Danny Aiello, Andrea Martin and Jane Seymour
Run time: 102 minutes

New trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ features six Spideys

“How many more Spider-People are there?” Watch the brand new trailer of Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to find out.

In Philippine cinemas December 13, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

About Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, the screenplay is by Phil Lord. The film is produced, in association with Marvel, by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Christina Steinberg.

Marcelo Santos III’s best-selling novel, ‘Para sa Broken Hearted,’ is now a movie

The much-awaited movie adaptation of “Para sa Broken Hearted”, the best-selling book by renowned young “hugot novelist” Marcelo Santos III, is all set to stir emotions on October 3, its nationwide theater release from VIVA Films and Sari-Sari Films.

Yassi Pressman, Shy Carlos, Louise Delos Reyes, Sam Concepcion and Marco Gumabao give life to the characters of Shalee, Jackie, Kath, Dan, Alex and RJ.

Shalee (Yassi Pressman) is a bubbly photography enthusiast who is battling with a heart ailment. She has had feelings for Alex (Sam Concepcion) since their younger days.

Alex is also into arts, but his favorite subject to draw is that of monsters. Everybody treats him like he’s invisible, but Shalee’s attention and affection changes his view about life.

Jackie (Shy Carlos) is an absolute go-getter, believing in girl power as she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She falls for RJ (Marco Gumabao), and does everything to get close to him.

RJ is a varsity player and a smooth-talker which is a solid combo to attract girls. He is used to girls falling for him, but promises Jackie that he would never do anything to hurt her.

Kath (Louise Delos Reyes) is an adventurous gal who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside. She meets Dan during a time when she’s mending a broken heart.

As their stories unfold, see how the characters go from being blissfully in love to failing miserably in keeping their happiness last. Discover the connection of their lives through their broken hearts, and how it will pave the way to acceptance and moving on.

Marcelo Santos III expressed his approval on the actors’ portrayal of their characters. He was present during the film’s shooting, and he’s happy that the vision of director Digo Ricio coincided with how he saw his book to be interpreted on screen.

Giving more feels to the movie is the theme song entitled “Ang Awit Natin”, sung by Janine Teñoso, composed by Jazz Nicolas and Wally Acolola, the winning tandem behind the hit song “Di Na Muli”.

Don’t miss this compelling movie about love and its tragedies. Para sa ‘yo, para sa ‘kin, Para sa Broken Hearted.