"Filled with heart and humor" (The New York Times), Mystic Pizza charts the lives and loves of three unforgettable waitresses in a little town called Mystic. Starring Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich), Annabeth Gish (Beautiful Girls) and Lili Taylor (The Haunting) Mystic Pizza "has all the right ingredients of a main-course favorite" (Video Movie Guide).
For sexy Daisy Araujo (Roberts), her sensible sister Kat (Gish) and their wisecracking friend Jojo (Taylor), the summer after high school is a summer they'll never forget. Slinging pizza at a local restaurant, the three girls share their hopes, dreams and plans for escaping their small town. And when Daisy is swept off her feet by a wealthy young man named Charles, they all think she's found her ticket out. But when the girls learn that Charles isn't the man they think he is, they discover that with friendship and self-respect, not only will they find real happiness (and a way out of Mystic)...they just might find themselves!
"Is that the toothy girl from Mystic Pizza?" - Ron Swanson
Yes it is, Ron Swanson. Yes it is. The toothy girl in question of course is the lovely Julia Roberts, who is indeed one of the stars of the romantic comedy 'Mystic Pizza.' Joining Ms. Roberts are actresses Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor, who together play a trio of young women who work at, yes you guessed it, Mystic Pizza, a pizza parlor in Mystic, Connecticut. Most notable for being one of Roberts' early breakthrough roles, 'Mystic Pizza' is a perfectly harmless but almost completely forgettable film. Light on laughs and interesting drama, it just sort of sits there in the tepid, murky waters of mediocrity.
Throughout the film, each of the three female leads journeys through her own subplot, taken straight out of the romantic comedy guidebook. One falls in love with a handsome rich guy who resents his upscale family, another falls in love with a married man, and the third must decide whether or not she wants to marry her longtime boyfriend. Fitting right in with these tried and true plotlines, the characters themselves each adhere to a classic romantic comedy archetype. There's the smart one who's going to an Ivy League college, the ditzy one who might not leave her small town, and Julia Roberts. Their stories end exactly where you'd expect them to with some average drama and an occasional laugh along the way. The acting is fine, and Roberts definitely displays that unique spark which would make her a big star, but in the end, there's nothing particularly thoughtful or entertaining here.
Whenever I watch an older film like this, which hasn't aged particularly well, I always wonder, was it ever a good movie? Was there a time when its clichéd plot and by the numbers approach came off as interesting? Have similar films in recent years simply diluted what once was a clever and creative little story? Is it just bogged down by its own influence and numerous imitators? Should it be given more credit when its place in time and film history is put into context? Was it actually good once? No. No it wasn't. I may be in the minority on that though, because apparently it got fairly positive reviews when first released in 1988. I'm not sure why. Could it have been the occasionally humorous use of profanity that gives the film its R rating? (Yes 'Mystic Pizza' is actually rated R, weird right?) Perhaps it was the gloriously cheesy scene featuring darts and billiards? Or Julia Roberts' "sexy" attempt at hitchhiking? Maybe it was just Ms. Roberts herself, fairly fresh to screens, with a world eager and willing to embrace her toothy charm? Whatever it was, I'm not seeing it. Wait, did I mention that Matt Damon is in this movie? Well, he is. In his feature film debut he plays a character named Steamer. Yes, Steamer. Maybe that was it. Oh, and as one last side note, as I learned from watching this film, don't ever let Lili Taylor babysit your children. She will hypnotize them with a Portuguese song and steal their souls. Well, that's what it looked like to me anyway.
In the end, though by no means completely terrible, 'Mystic Pizza' isn't really worth much of a look. Most laughs are of the unintentional variety, but to its credit a few genuine ones do slip in. There is some charm to be found in the cast but the story is far too basic and the execution too dated and mediocre.
Presented with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the video here is decent enough. The opening scene is the roughest, exhibiting a startling amount of print damage, with specks, scratches, and dirt all over the place. Thankfully, this mostly cleans up for the remainder of the film, though there are still some specks throughout. A better preserved source would have been nice, but I'm not exactly surprised that the studio didn't pony up the money for a restoration. MGM is practically rolling their film cannisters from studio to studio in a wheelbarrow there says anyways.
A natural layer of grain is present throughout, and though occasionally soft, there is some fine detail. Color is solid, but there isn't a lot of depth to the picture, providing an overall flat look. Contrast is appropriate, and black levels remain deep.
Overall, with the exception of some minor specks on the print, 'Mystic Pizza' looks about as good as it probably ever did or ever will. A competent but certainly not impressive presentation.
The film is provided with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, a Spanish Dolby Surround track, and a French mono track, with English SDH, and French subtitles. The stereo track is decent but does exhibit some weaknesses beyond its absence of surrounds.
Dialogue is thin and there are occasional crackles. Dynamic range is mostly flat, though some of the 80s tunes do carry some punch. Bass is basically absent as is significant directionality between left and right channels.
The audio here isn't great, but it gets the job done. The film wasn't made with a surround sound track, and I doubt it would have benefited from an after the fact upgrade.
'Mystic Pizza' is a disposable but harmless romantic comedy starring a young Julia Roberts. There are some entertaining moments, but overall, it's just not that good. The video and audio accurately represent the movie, but that's not exactly saying much. With no extras except a trailer, even fans will be disappointed. It did make me hungry for pizza though, so, mission accomplished there at least.