I caught Pizza (Paul Fenech, 2000) a couple of times on SBS TV during the war on terror but then about two months ago I got drunk and kicked my TV down the backstairs and that kind of put a stop to the ingestion of current affairs. Even when Adrian Martin gave it three and a half stars, Fat Pizza (Fenech, 2003) still wasn't on my radar.
When I got my mission to review Fat Pizza I said I'd get my girlfriend to come see it with me. I wanted an insight into the fear and loathing with which every woman I knew regarded this movie. I rang and asked a lot of old girlfriends. I said, 'I've got free tickets, it'll be fun, we don't have to laugh with it, we can laugh at it'.
So alone, on a sodden Sunday evening, I found myself sitting on a crusty, synthetic seat amongst twelve people (nine boys/ two girls) in an 800-seat Village cinema with the air-conditioning on chill and I have to report that this audience was laughing, really laughing.
The narrative is simplistic but this is speedy, situation comedy. Pizza chef, Bobo Giglioti (John Boxer) orders, and sets about meeting and marrying, his mail order refugee bride (Lin Chow Bang) against Mamma Giglioti's (Maria Venuti) wishes, while Pauly (Paul Fenech) and his Lebanese mate, Sleek the Elite (Paul Nakad), stumble in and out of scrapes, and the new 'skippy' kid discovers delivering Pizza ain't easy.
Comedy is hard, especially on the big screen, but in Fat Pizza's favour, it's fast and, apart from the lack of comic ingenuity in the obligatory wedding scene, it surprised me. The humour is irreverent, seditious, satirical, current and base. I didn't laugh out loud, but I got it.
For the adolescent boy there's the sashaying of bikini-clad models and loads of abject humour--'fat chicks', vomit, sex and toilet humour. For the ladies, well there's not a lot, except guys acting dumb and making fools of themselves. As one girlfriend said, 'you don't have to go to the movies for that'. There are loads of guest appearances from the old TV mafia--Angry Anderson (typecast?) as an angry midget amongst bikies, Bob Ellis as the premier we never knew, Merv Hughes as Ivan Milat, Bernard King (he was repentantly campy, wasn't he?) in his last appearance.
Fat Pizza is wog-spolitation; it sits comfortably amongst The Wog Boy (Aleksi Vellis, 2000), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Joel Zwick, 2002), Effie (Coleman/Seet, 2001) and, if Britain's wogs are Indian or Pakistani, then Fat Pizza accompanies Bend it Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002), The Buddha of Surburbia (Roger Michell, 1993) and the The Kumars at no.42 (Evans/Wood, 2001).
Since post-war reffos--the Italians, Jews, Serbs, Poles, Hungarians and Greeks--did their time as the butt of middle Australian humour in the likes of They're A Weird Mob (Michael Powell, 1966) their second generation children have integrated with the wider, whiter, conservative urban Australia, and absorbed and made the insult of 'wog' a warm and fuzzy one.
What Fat Pizza reminds us is that we've all conveniently forgotten that there have been further immigrations, other wars, other ethnic cleansings that have delivered Lebanese, Vietnamese, Maltese, indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Malaysians, Cambodians, Hmong, Ethiopians, Kenyans, Rwandans and of course, the latest wave of demonised refugees from the Middle East, all of whom (ignoring Hung Le, who regards himself a comedian not a 'Vietnamese comedian') are utterly without a comedic voice. …