Documentary Review: Laughing Pizza (2012)

Little Bean Family Entertainment
Runtime: 46 minutes
Rated: No MPAA rating
Documentary | Family | Musical

Laughing Pizza is a family band composed of three members; father Billy Schlosser and mother Lisa Schlosser (both established musicians since the 1980s), and their daughter Emily. In this musical documentary about their take-off as a traveling trio, Lisa and Billy share the story of how and why they do what they do.

Watching their daughter gyrate to inappropriate music as a young child inspired them with the revelation that there just isn’t appropriate music for kids and families to jam out to. With the need for a better product seen, they decided to be the ones to fill the niche themselves.

When we gradually get into the story of how a young, dancing, musically inspired daughter knocked their family into small-time show-biz with the band Laughing Pizza, we are used to the rather drastic fade-ins and fade-outs of the music. And when we learn how Lisa and Billy met up, we’re well on our way to understanding this maniacally melodious family that really enjoys what they do as much as they enjoy each other.

Somebody really needed to capitalize on kids and their love for pizza, and it has firmly been done here. Performance-wise, this is heads-and-tails better off than karaoke night for family, but the surprisingly catchy tunes and a sea of smiles from parents proud to bring their preteens-and-younger to the show in New York are more than apparent. And their success is still on the rise as can be seen from the regular updates on their website with newer songs.

Yes, these tunes seem designed to reel in the preteen crowd, but it isn’t until one starts to wonder if they have anything else but pizza to sing about. The big roadblock for this group is its limited marketability, due mostly to the lyrics. Do we really need music telling kids to clean their rooms, to do their homework, or how to make pizza in a dance? And encouraging kids to spend less time with their technology and more time outside sounds like a brilliant idea. I simply do not think it will get through.

A mistake made by many of the most pious of Christian groups (which this does not appear to be, by the way) is telling kids to obey their parents—something they already know. And if “cool” means constantly repeating how awesome being with family is, then, well, it sounds like there is no big mystery behind why so many Christian artists struggle with finding a wide enough audience. The extremely young children and later-year teenagers will have trouble relating to much here.

But as stated, Laughing Pizza is not about indoctrination. It is simply about love and family and music, and it seems, letting the world know that the withdrawn “whatever!” teenager is not the only kind out there, despite what Hollywood would let you believe.

But it’s what we don’t get or get little of here that makes it seem almost unreal; unlike so many documentaries with pics of its stars staring at a lake, throwing stones, contemplating their purpose amidst a tragedy, we don’t get that. We get ready reminders (repeated through several different songs) to clean one’s room and to remember that mom has laundry to do—and that you have two arms and two legs that can be used for working! So again, we have to ask, do modern kids really need this? Will the majority of kids today respond to it at all?

The story of Lisa and Billy’s struggle with Emily at birth is moving, as are their efforts to separate themselves from a world of fun-having dysfunctional families. Isn’t that what the sitcoms have taught us for years now? It’s fun to be dysfunctional and to know that no matter how bad things get at home, your messed-up family isn’t as bad as the ones on TV. We’ve come to expect as much, which makes this refreshing.

It is the exact opposite of the depressing Hollywood dynamic that makes this so commendable. Laughing Pizza heads proudly in the other direction with a clear goal in mind, and more than anything, is an inspiring story for those families that are willing to (literally) march to the beat of their own set of drums. I don’t feel comfortable putting a grade on this one.