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The Emma Roberts Rom-Com Flop Defying Odds And Getting A Second Chance On Netflix

While prestige romance movies like "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" and "Moonlight" have captivated audiences, romantic comedies are at their best when they're cheesy and unbelievable. Even if they're not technically great movies, genre lovers are happy to suspend their disbelief and root for the couple at the heart of the story.

With the help of streaming services, rom-coms otherwise doomed to the graveyard of reruns on cable networks can find unexpected success. For example, "Something Borrowed" received negative reviews and was dubbed "forgettable" until it was recently added to Netflix, and got a second chance with audiences who were happy to embrace the cliché love story.

The same is happening with "Little Italy," a Canadian-American rom-com starring Emma Roberts that holds just 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. When the film's trailer was released, social media users initially thought it was a joke and relentlessly mocked the dated concept. The negativity continued in reviews that begged the question: was this released in 2018 or 2008? However, with a new home on Netflix, the film is unexpectedly gaining traction.

Little Italy is Romeo & Juliet meets Mystic Pizza

"Little Italy" follows two rival families and their respective neighboring pizza restaurants in Toronto. Their long-running feud stems from the fallout of their joint business venture with seemingly no end in sight — until Nikki Angioli (Emma Roberts) comes home.

Nikki, who moved to London for culinary school, begrudgingly returns to sort out paperwork and winds up reconnecting with Leo Campoli (Hayden Christensen). The former childhood friends with a competitive relationship realize they have feelings for one another in a montage of Lifetime-worthy moments like playing soccer in the rain, acting like tourists in their hometown, and competing against one another in a pizza showdown.

With their unexpected fling and the homesickness that's cured by slice after slice of pizza, Nikki is forced to choose between her career as a chef, her family, and her feelings for her rival. "Little Italy" is a modern, Italian take on the tale of Romeo and Juliet, trading in the poison for pepperoni and the noble families for boisterous restauranteurs.

Rom-com lovers looking for a cheesy, feel-good film are enjoying the film's revival despite how panned it was upon release. As film critic Alex Hudson wrote for Exclaim!, though, "'Little Italy' is a bit like pizza itself — even when it's bad, it's still pretty good."