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Monday, 9 January 2017

Retro Review: Mystic Pizza (1988)

Mystic Pizza
Cast: Julia Roberts, Vincent D' Onofrio, Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, William R. Moses 
Genre: Coming of Age drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $12 million

Plot: Three teenage girls come of age while working at a pizza parlour in the Connecticut town of Mystic 

'Adequate, Though Not Very Compelling Coming-Of Age Flick Held Together By Julia Roberts'

Roger Ebert or another critic once said this film, may someday be known for the movie stars it showcased before they became stars, and in Julia Roberts, Mystic Pizza is certainly that film. Rated R for profanity, the odd sex scene and smoking scenes that nowadays would be certified 'G'-rated, Mystic Pizza focuses on three young women - 2 sisters and a friend- who work at a pizza place. Jojo, Daisy (Julia Roberts) and Kat. The latter 2 being sisters with Daisy being the pretty looking one. 

Billed as a coming-of-age tale, it's more of a romantic drama with the male character love interests who exist to cause problems for the girls in the film. But for say Vincent D' Onofrio, they come across as being superfluous and were total jerks throughout. 

Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor and Julia Roberts were all in their early 20s - prior to Mystic Pizza & Satisfaction, Roberts had an unaccredited cameo in a tacky sex comedy, Firehouse the year before. Seeing her and Annabeth, Lili - but more so Julia Roberts emerge, years before she permanently turned her attention to rom-coms and to see their talents flourish here is rather curious. Their performances blend well together and compliment each other that is also not too heavy.   

What I am a bit mystified with - and no I wasn't making a pun - is that the sisters and their family are Portuguese American but they work at a pizza restaurant, and pizza is Italian by origin. But anyhow, moving right on...

It feels comfortable, light, not too heavy-handed and the romantic storylines are pretty standard and nothing we haven't seen before. It is reminiscent of Steel Magnolias with that coming- of- age feel, but compared to that film, Mystic Pizza doesn't come close enough. It just wasn't my thing and it didn't turn out the way I'd anticipated for a Julia Roberts movie with a considerable cult following that it has. The main beefs I have are the plot isn't challenging enough and the subplots that unfold within the story involving the girls' individual relationships with their boyfriends, most of it was pretty dull. It didn't feel compelling enough for me. 

The pairing of Julia Roberts's wild child in Daisy with Adam Storke's Charles was a bit odd, although this storyline foreshadows her dating a rich guy like she did in Pretty Woman

There is a 'blink and you'll miss it' minor debut from Matt Damon in this film during a dinner table scene where Daisy is dining with her boyfriend's family as one of Daisy's relatives. 


Pros +

- Engaging performances that blend well together 

- Is comfortable, light, not too heavy-handed

- Formulaic but not bad coming-of-age drama


- Cursing was a bit unnecessary

- Narrative wasn't mind-blowing 

-  The male characters were mostly jerks 

Final Verdict:

I could have done without the strong profanity, but whilst it is alright, it lacked the charm and depth of Steel Magnolias. Julia Roberts is not bad as Daisy Arujo, although her performance is what makes Mystic Pizza watchable - yet average also, which brings this film down a notch. 

If coming-of-age movies are your thing, this will be worth your while. Otherwise, I have seen far better performances from Julia Roberts, and good thing she has delivered better than this offering since this film came out. It is pleasant and modest, but it didn't blow me away, which I wanted this to do.

In all, one or two slices of Mystic Pizza is more than enough for me, thanks.  


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