Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Mystic Pizza (1988)

I must be in the mood of coming of age tales lately. This Don Petrie entry was originally released in 1988; I was a pre-teen at the time, and while I remember the film’s theatrical run, it was something that plainly I was not interested in – I was in the waning years of my “Star Wars” phase. Several years on, I caught Mystic Pizza on cable TV and soon learned the error of my ways. Thus making this once “personally overlooked” film a staple in my home video collection.

For those who do not know, the town Mystic, Connecticut and the pizza parlor of the title actually DO exist – several train journeys to New England prove this out. In our story, we explore the lives of three young Portuguese-American women working at the parlor – sisters Kat (Annabeth Gish) and Daisy (Julia Roberts), and their best friend, Jojo (Lili Taylor) as they deal with trials and tribulations of growing up in the seaside community.

A lot is also made of the women’s ethnic heritage in the film, as it is used to constantly contrast with the Anglo-American culture that surrounds them.

When you look back at this film, it is obvious that this was a star-making vehicle for many of the lead actresses, especially Annabeth Gish. While she is perfectly suited for the role and did a great job as the ‘academic’ sibling, Julia Roberts’ free-spirited portrayal of Daisy clearly demonstrates the “it” I am sure so many Hollywood producers clamor for. I know it sounds trite now, given the 22 years of perspective and all, but you can kind of see it.

So if you have overlooked this title, I recommend seeking it out.

Fun Facts:

  • A teenaged Matt Damon appears in one scene of the film as one of the girls’ beau’s younger brother. He has one line.
  • Julia Roberts dyed her locks dark brown/black for the role.


Please be sure to check out Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom, for more overlooked and under-appreciated titles.


  1. I saw this one when it came out actually, being an 80s teen, and immediately fell for Gish and Taylor – Roberts I was already having no trouble resisting! I have one good buddy who insists it is the perfect film … Great choice for the meme.
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  2. Jack Deth says:

    Hi, Iluv and company:

    Excellent choice!

    ‘Mystic Pizza’ is one of the few true Romantics Comedies that I enjoyed the first time I saw it. And every time since. A great little spring board for a lot of today’s top end talent.

    Kind of the ground breaker for ‘Shag’ (The dance. Not the act!) a year later. With Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda and Annabeth Gish in a 1960s Summer love story.

  3. Oh my, I saw this ages ago and actually enjoyed it. Boy, Vincent D’Onofrio was quite hunky back then, ahah. Whatever happened to Annabeth Gish??
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  4. Patti Abbott says:

    There are very few movies I can watch more than once or twice, but this is one of them. It just felt real.

  5. I love this one too, Iba. Though admittedly I haven’t watched it lately. Still, I have fond memories of it. A great choice.
    I always thought what a skunk that married guy was. Felt sorry for his wife. I bet this was his modus operandi. Every summer a different babe.

    I am very fond of Annabeth Gish and wish she’d become a star. But I believe she did a lot of television. Haven’t seen her lately though.

  6. I was just a toddler when this film was released.; in fact, I haven’t heard about it. I’ll be sure to check this out. Thanks for the share!
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