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.