Extra Toppings

By Alex Backstrom | Comedy
A young pizza driver gets more than she bargains for after being pulled into a feud between two rival pizza shops.

Jo Columbo is a young teenage girl who loves cars. Since she can’t yet be a race car driver, she’ll settle for the next best job for her age, as a pizza delivery driver.

But when she marches into the local pizzeria one night to apply for a job, she finds herself embroiled within a surprisingly fierce rivalry with another pizza shop. Jo has to lean on her quick wit and driving skills to extricate herself from a tricky situation, but she just may be in over her head.

Writer-director Alex Backstrom, along with producer Brian Caputo and DP Blake Horn, have crafted a high-octane, fast-paced action-comedy short that careens from one plot point to another with raucous energy, pulling audiences along for a wildly entertaining ride.

The film rests firmly on the shoulders of its central character, played by young performer Faith Kelly. She plays Jo with great charisma and confidence, essaying the role of a young woman who derives her sense of power and joy in the full expression of her skills and talents. Wry, funny, smart and quick-thinking, Kelly plays Jo like an icon in the making, and is a true pleasure to watch.

The craft and storytelling that surrounds Jo more than lives up to the character’s energy. The film’s action chops are clear, capturing the adrenaline-filled chase scenes with clarity and verve. The photography has the feel of the great car chase films of the late 70s and early 80s, with its richer colors and warmer lights. But this short is far from an exercise in nostalgia — with its heroine at the helm, it also feels resolutely modern, forward-thinking and unapologetically fun.

The conceit of violently competitive pizzerias is inherently amusing, and the emotional tenor of the film is perfectly pitched, both to emphasize the comedy but also to raise the stakes for the action aspects of the short. The owner of Jo’s shop takes the rivalry very seriously, and he’ll do anything to get back at his rival when they put their flyers on cars in his parking lot. His newbie test for Jo is to retaliate, putting her in the middle of the conflict and setting off a chain of events that builds to a hilarious and thrilling climax.

“Extra Toppings” is a great ride of an action-comedy, and it will be hard for audiences not to want more. Jo is simply a dynamic character that is enjoyable to watch, and the world of the film also begs for expansion. For now, though, audiences will just have to content themselves with an compelling, entertaining ten minutes packed with witty banter, car chases and tons of fun.

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