Inexplicably delightful. I really wanted to hate this film. It has been too long since my last negative review and my claws have been longing for blood. But, I just can’t hate this film. Taking place during the final days of a neighborhood pizza parlor, 8 slices focuses on the eccentric cast of characters who make up the staff. Part of a sub-genre of coming of age stories, it fits neatly in the “magical workplace” trope like Empire Records or Mystic Pizza. The kind of story that looks at time spent working a minimum wage job through a hazy gauze of whimsical nostalgia. While I do like this movie there is a lot wrong with it.
The character of Jack is the only one who talks to the camera. It is sporadic and unmotivated since the 8 Slices doesn’t focus on him, or his experience at the restaurant. Every time he does it, it is jarring and slows down the story.
The script feels like it was originally written for the stage. As such, 8 Slices doesn’t really take advantage of the things you can only do in movies. Whereas a play is more about the words, a movie is more about the images. A moment or an important part of exposition can be made just from visuals. Something that director Nick Westfall is a little weak at.
“Taking place during the final days of a neighborhood pizza parlor, 8 slices focuses on the eccentric cast of characters…”
There is very little character development. In no small part because it is an enormous cast. For this reason, 8 slices doesn’t give us the opportunity to really get to know any of them. We meet a character, they deliver a few lines, and that’s all we get.
The scenes aren’t great. I’m not trying to knock the actors. They deliver their lines and hit their marks and stay consistent. But, there is no real effort put into building a scene or an emotional moment. At almost every turn I feel as if everyone needed at least a few more takes to really nail it.
And yet I loved this film. I loved the characters. I loved the world they created. For all its flaws I couldn’t stop watching it. 8 Slices is not a “good” film, but something here is working and I’m having a really hard time quantifying what that is.
“…working in a place where there is no snark, no petty behavior, and that feels like a home…”
Perhaps it is the quirk that all the characters put a famous author on their nametag. But, more than that, they all seem to be based on that famous author. So there is fun in watching Nietzsche, Camus, Rand, and Kerouac working in a pizza place and interacting.
Perhaps it is the fantasy of having a boss who only wants to see you do well, and coworkers who are loving and supportive. Of working in a place where there is no snark, no petty behavior, and that feels like a home. A sort of anti-sitcom.
Perhaps it is the several obscure literary references that make this geeky book nerd quiver with joy.
Perhaps it is the battle between print literature and internet culture played out metaphorically.
I really wish I could say why I enjoyed 8 slices so much. But I am still baffled by what they have accomplished, like a really great magic trick. Part of me wants to understand how they did it, another just wants to applaud and be amazed.
8 Slices (2019) Directed by Nick Westfall. Written by Nick Westfall. Starring Jesse C. Boyd, Kathy Searle, Tyra Colar.
8 out of 10 slices
"…"...there is fun in watching Nietzsche, Camus, Rand, and Kerouac working in a pizza place and interacting.""