Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza

Most remember Mystic Pizza as the movie
that launched the career of Julia Roberts

Mystic Pizza

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There are some movies that are fondly remembered by the public. In this case most remember the film as the movie that launched the career of Julia Roberts. It did far more than that. It was the means to introduce the public to several bright young stars of new Hollywood. Among them are Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish and Vicent D’Onofrio.

Mystic Pizza is a emotionally driven film, concentrating on the lives of three young girls in that special summer after high school but before taking on life as an adult. Mystic Pizza starts with JoJo (Taylor) fainting at her wedding upon hearing how marriage is a life long commitment. She loves her boyfriend Bill (D’Onofrio) but she fears her future of being a fisherman’s wife surrounded by children. Mystic is a seaport where such a fate is common place for the locals. Daisy (Roberts) is bent on marrying well and leaving Mystic. She is the ‘pretty’ one of the group and knows that she has little going for her except her ambition and her looks. She latches on to a black sheep rich boy (Adam Storke) hoping for love or at least something different from the local boys. Daisy’s sister Kat (Gish) is the quite, studious type. She has received a partial scholarship to Yale and is working several jobs to help pay her way. Kat is into astronomy and hopes to become an astronomer upon graduation from Yale. Kat finds herself babysitting for a 30 year old Yale grad, Tim (William R. Moses). Kat has a natural way with people and Tim’s four-year-old daughter and Kat are soon bonding. Trouble is, Kat is falling for Tim whose wife is in England. The daughter openly states that her parents are not getting a divorce but jus the use of that word by one so young seems to give Kat hope for a relationship with Tim. The three girls work for a local pizza place, The Mystic Pizza (duh), which is run by an older woman (Conchata Ferrell). She is kept going by pride in the family pizza recipe that has been past down through the generation. Now, she is the end of the line and wants one of the girls to carry on for her. Along the way in this film we see class bigotry when rich boy Charlie brings Daisy home to the folks. We also get a look at how trapped many people feel by the town and situation they are born into.

Although Mystic Pizza is at the start of the careers of many of the cast the potential for greatness is evident. Robert as the free spirited Daisy is wonderful. I can see how she got the role of Shelby in Steel Magnolias. Her character here is a slightly wilder version of Shelby but the talent Roberts has pulls of the role and makes a potentially unsympathetic character one we can actually care about. Taylor shines in the role of JoJo. A touch of wild mixed with a naïve makes for an excellent portrait of a young woman beginning life in a place where she feels there is only existence. The real star of Mystic Pizza is Gish. Her performance is the best in the show. The girl teased by her sister as being a saint starting to feel desires and emotions she has always kept in check. As you watch this movie you will most likely fall into the same frame of mind I did, comparing the work to the future films these actors have been in. I watched Mystic Pizza a second time forcing those thoughts from my mind, just enjoying the performances for the gems they are, not as the starting point for even better films. You can even catch a quick glimpse of Matt Damon as Charlie’s kid brother during an explosive scene when the little rich boy brings his ‘Portagee’ girtl home for dinner.

The director Donald Petrie has had an eclectic career. He started directing in the mid eighties with such TV shows as the Equalizer, Amazing Stories, MacGyver and L.A. Law. Pizza was his real freshman effort for a major film. His more recent films include Richie Rich, Grumpy Old Men, My Favorite Martian and the current hit, Miss Congeniality. Petrie has a real fell for small time life. He’s not much for second unit shots of the sea or the town. He focuses on the characters and in doing so he presents an intimate portrait of these young women. There are some real gem moments in Mystic Pizza. I’m sure as you watch you will find many that will touch you. He takes a premise that may sound less than interesting on paper and makes it into a film that will hold on to you long after it is over.

The Mystic Pizza disc is another plain vanilla DVD that many have come to despise. Dolby surround sound rather than explosive 5.1. No extras other than a trailer, no commentary and no special effects. The video is in anamorphic 1.85:1 and the video and audio are excellent for a 13 year old film. Since you will not buy Mystic Pizza for the extras why should you get it? Because Mystic Pizza offers some of the best in acting, direction and scripting around. It has the look and feel of an intimate little independent film made by a cast and crew that cares. Mystic Pizza is not a disc for someone that wants the most from a DVD. Mystic Pizza is a film for people that love the craft of filmmaking.

Movie Review of Mystic Pizza by Doug MacLean of

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