I must admit right from the first sentence that my soft spot for Emma Roberts’ work grew from her gotta-grow-up role as Amy in the 2013 not-what-you’d-think from the title funny little drama <em>Adult World</em>. I so enjoyed her work next to Evan Peters as the good guy who teaches her a thing or three about life and John Cusack as the beyond-crusty college prof-poet whom she thinks she worships. It helped that <em>Adult World</em> was filmed in my hometown of Syracuse, yes, so I got to play I know that spot as I watched in the theater and again in my living room. Yet I still think it stand on its own.
Anyway, in 2018’s <em>Little Italy</em>, we find Julia’s niece and Eric’s daughter niece playing Nikki, an aspiring chef who fled her Toronto neighborhood of, of course, Little Italy, to study under a wise woman in Paris. We find Nikki coming back home when Corrine, played with just the right amount of arrogance by Jayne Seymour, narrows down her choice for head chef spot for her new restaurant between Nikki and another understudy, a male. She figures going back to where her parents run a pizza joint could clear her head to come up with her presentation …
But then she runs into childhood friend (and lifelong two-way crush) Leo. Hayden Christensen plays the smart-tender-tough friend-more-what-are-we role with that type of range.
They relive old times on the sly. Their parents’ formerly one happy pizza place has fragmented into two neighboring joints after their fathers’ had a battle Royale whose origins nobody will speak.
The rest is rom com formula directed by Donald Petrie from a screenplay by Steve Galluccio and Vinay Virmanji, sure, but the two leads and the folks who play the older generations — we’ve got Danny Aiello and Andrea Martin as respective grandpa and grandmas stealing scenes — help make it fun.
The fathers fight endlessly and the mothers want peace. The kids, well, they mess around with various ingredients until life feels just right again.