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Monthly Archives: December 2011

I knew I was in luck as soon as I walked in the door — all around were signs that I was in the right place: delivery drivers running around with stacks of boxes, tasty-looking slices at the counter, and the constant din of cooks shouting at each other in Greek.

My intuition was right on the money — the three slices Mr. Max and I shared solidly make the list of “top ten pizzas I have known.” There wasn’t anything fancy about them — no arugula, or feta, or pesto — but these simple cheese slices had everything: a tangy but not overpowering tomato sauce, high-quality ingredients, and texture that transcends the state of just “bread and cheese.”

And all wrapped up in a classic box design — perfection. Let’s break it down:

Generic Product Claim: “Oven Fresh.” It’s a classic generic claim that, if you really think about it, doesn’t make any sense. Doesn’t ALL pizza come out of an oven? I mean, I’ve been in some pretty nasty pizza places, but the only time I’ve ever seen the union of pizza and a microwave was on an Amtrak. And you can’t really call that food, much less pizza.

Italian Stereotype: This Italian stereotype comes to us, seemingly, by way of the Pillsbury Doughboy. It’s still a classic racist stereotype, but it’s WAY more cartoony/wacky than the usual Mario/Luigi caricatures. I’m a little confused by the shoe situation, though. It seems a little disembodied looking…but maybe that’s just a screenprinting goof?

Rating: Whole thing gets a win. A classic design for a classic pizza joint. Fun fact: Mr. Max and I picked this up making a marathon one-day trip into the City. The memory of the goodness of the pizza sustained us for the grueling trip back in the middle of the night.  It was that good.

I was determined  to catch at least one Lifetime movie this Thanksgiving holiday, and I ended up getting 1.25. Tuning in a few minutes early for Will You Merry Me, I caught the ending scenes of Deck The Halls, a Gabrielle Carteris vehicle featuring Santa Claus as a love interest. The existence of this movie proves once and for all that Lifetime can make a romance out of anything.

Anything.

The feature presentation, Will You Merry Me, is a Lifetime comedy, meaning that 1) it’s not funny and 2) the synthesizer score is 50% louder.

The story begins with the engagement of Rebecca Fine and Henry Kringle, two bright-eyed young lovebirds living in New York City. Through an amazingly expositional flashback, we learn that Rebecca and Henry moved in together a mere six months earlier, all because neither one would give up the apartment they were both interested in.

It was LOVE.

The happy couple have super-fabulous urban lifestyles — Henry’s a lawyer and Rebecca has some fancy job that involves silk blouses, a smart phone, and Being Important.

See also: Samantha Jones, every chick flick protagonist ever.

To kick off the engagement, Rebecca and Henry’s parents agree to meet everyone in Henry’s hometown. The catch, we’re told, is that the Kringles are small-town Christians and the Fines are L.A. Jews. Uh-oh!

The screenwriters play this up as if it’s the BIGGEST CULTURAL DIFFERENCE EVER, but I could come up with a million better ideas. How about: an engineer and… the amish? A sex therapist and…buddhist monks? Wouldn’t that have been totally awesome?

The Fines arrive at Main Street America, USA, and are greeted by Momma Kringle, who is played by the mom from Dead Like Me. Culturally unaware, but a real people-pleaser, she takes great pains to “include” Rebecca’s parents in celebrating Christmas.

Production note: In this scene, the synthesizer oboe score (henceforth known as “fauxboe”) blared with a wacky klezmeresque melody. Fun!

Rebecca’s parents spend their time engaging in awkward small talk and staring in disbelief at the Kringle’s tacky porcelain junk, blinding christmas decorations, and marshmallow-laden “ambrosia salad.” Just as they’re about to hightail it back to L.A., an unexpected blizzard (or clumsy deus ex machina) grounds all flights indefinitely.


The elder Fines and Kringles continue to grate on each other’s nerves, sitcom-style, eventually bottoming out in mutual hatred when Ms. Fine (accidentally…?) runs over a beloved town reindeer.

Nope, I’m not exaggerating. That’s actually what happens.

In the midst of all this wackiness, Rebecca and Henry have a series of arguments: Vegan Rebecca is shocked to learn that Henry sees nothing wrong with his childhood duck-hunting trips. Henry is surprised to hear Rebecca casually tell her in-laws that she expects to stop working while their children are young. “In New York!?” he says, “we could never afford that. We’d have to move out of the city.” Then they fight about the fact that neither one wants to live in the other’s hometown.

Um, is this still a comedy? I’m getting kind of depressed. Don’t most people use TV to get away from family arguments during the holidays?

By the final act it seemed like, for everyone’s sake, the couple should amicably split…lest they risk a cameo by the Lifetime Murdering Staircase.

With Lifetime, it’s always a possibility.

But no — instead we get the usual last-minute dramatic airport scene, all backed by the fauxbo’s emotional strains. Rebecca is about to get on a plane before Henry stops her with a bland chick-flick speech about loving Tofurky and it not mattering if their families are different. They live happily ever after…(although they’ll probably divorce later).

Rating: I watched this one with Mr. Max and his dad, whose sarcastic commentary made the first half seem really interesting. When the food coma took both of them over, it became more boring. In summary, Will You Merry Me is the tofu of Lifetime Movies —  it needs other things around it to make it worthwhile.