Pizza Man 2011
This is another one of those lesser known, indie superhero movies that flew under the radar for me. And to be honest, I don’t often go digging for these gems, but I always keep an eye out for them to cross my path and this one did through one of my favorite movie sites to read Today I Watched a Movie who picked this up at Wal-Mart and gave it such high praise that I had to check it out, and so I picked it up for myself a few days later and it sat on my DVD shelf for a couple months before my wife finally put it in our DVD player for us to watch. I’m not as fully sold as TIWAM was, but it’s still a solid superhero send-up with a fun plot and quite a few recognizable characters.
The set up of the movie is that Frankie Muniz, aka Malcolm in the Middle who somehow chose this movie as his “comeback” after several years hiatus, is working for his family pizza restaurant which he resents and is floating his way through his chemistry class where his teacher is also working on a serum which will make tomatoes indestructible. While this could also be the setup for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, instead Muniz ends up eating the special tomato where it gives him the same indestructible powers and also some super strength for good measure while leaving him susceptible to second hand smoke. And of course, there’s also a rival company that wants to use this technology for weapons research and is headed up by Diamond Dallas Page who plays it like a typical ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants in the end. I haven’t mentioned the other typical subplot where there’s the girl next door that he’s loved for years and known all his life and yet she’s dating a typical douchebag teenager.
One of the things that were hit and miss that popped up throughout the movie are several cameo scenes that really only work if you recognize who these people are. My favorites were the one with Adam West who plays it pretty much like a real life version of the Mayor of Quahog, and the scene with Rowdy Roddy Piper which has several references to 80’s and 90’s WWF wrestling as well as his famous line from the movie They Live. The two that didn’t work as well were the Stan Lee scene which also suffered from bad audio and the dad and his kid from the first season of Heroes who I didn’t even recognize until I looked them up on IMDB. None of them are very important to the story, but they’re much more enjoyable if you understand the references. There’s also the occasional subversion to the typical superhero tropes, though it usually very superficial such as when he tries to come up with a quippy retort and then just says “screw it”, but the rest of the plot does still follow the typical superhero origin story right down to the villain causing his own demise, the hero gets the girl at the end and “promises” to give up his life of crimefighting only to immediately back out of that promise. Or at least the movie promotes the assumption that he won’t be giving up his superhero identity. I will say that the movie did make me laugh quite a bit, especially the running joke about how Muniz kept trying to say that his superhero name was “Power Man” and not “Pizza Man” while Dallas Page reminds him that “you’re not fooling anybody”.
I will say that once the movie got into the third act, it did get to be a little bit unbelievable. The villain has found Pizza Man’s weakness, but Pizza Man is determined to overcome the difficulties so he can save the girl, and the police are there for support yet they don’t really do anything to stop his efforts which ends up being almost as much of a hindrance as a help. There are still some funny moments here and there, but it does tend towards being a typical action-oriented third act where the hero makes the difficult choices in order to prove his worth as a true hero. Overall, it’s still a pretty good send-up of a superhero origin story with only a handful of pitfalls along the way. I quite enjoyed it, and it’s great to see some of the recognizable cast who I haven’t mentioned yet like the dad from Family Ties, Shelly Long from Cheers, and Corbin Bernson playing small roles. It’s worth checking out and it’s head and shoulders above something like Superhero Movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie nights.