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Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Donald Petrie
Produced by Mark Levinson
Scott Rosenfelt
Screenplay by Amy Holden Jones
Perry Howze
Randy Howze
Alfred Uhry
Story by Amy Holden Jones
Music by David McHugh
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Don Brochu
Marion Rothman
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates
  • October 21, 1988 (1988-10-21)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million
Box office $12.7 million

Mystic Pizza is a 1988 American coming-of-age film directed by Donald Petrie, and stars Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor.[1] It marked Matt Damon's film debut.

Although the film did not perform as well as expected at the box office, it gained a large cult following since its release and received relatively positive reviews by film critics, who praised the performances by the three lead actresses.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Critical response 3
  • Filming locations 4
  • Home media 5
  • References in popular culture 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The film is about the coming of age of two sisters and their friend through the romantic lives of the three main characters: Kat Arujo (Annabeth Gish), Daisy Arujo (Julia Roberts), and Jojo Barbosa (Lili Taylor), who are waitresses at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut. In the film, Mystic is represented as a fishing town with a large Portuguese-American population. The film also touches on an Old World work ethic.

Kat and Daisy are sisters and rivals: Kat studies astronomy, works at a local planetarium, as well as the restaurant, and has been accepted to attend Yale University on a partial scholarship. Daisy just wants to find love through lust while trying to get out of Mystic. Kat is the apple of her Portuguese mother's eye, while Daisy is not; she is promiscuous and is not as goal-oriented as her younger sister.

Daisy meets a handsome young man named Charles (Adam Storke) at a bar, and the two are immediately attracted to each other, and begin a relationship, much to her mother's dismay, believing that the relationship will prevent her making something of herself like Kat. However, after having dinner with his family, they break up when his family was making fun of her for her ethnicity, and she thinks that he was just dating her to prove something to them.

There is also chemistry between Kat and her Anglo-American employer, Tim (William R. Moses), a father who has hired her to look after his young daughter, Phoebe, while his wife is away. A relationship develops between them, but results in heartache for Kat when the wife returns and Tim fails to acknowledge what has developed between them. Daisy and Kat bond when Kat is devastated after her and Tim's evening together and Daisy comforts her baby sister.

Jojo is trying to have sex with her boyfriend Bill (Vincent D'Onofrio), whom she attempted marrying at the beginning of the movie, but fainted after deciding she couldn't go through with it. However, Bill refuses to have sex with her until they are married, which is something she still isn't ready for. Seeing how she tries to look for every chance to have sex with him, Bill believes that Jojo doesn't love him like he does her, and is only after him for sex, and breaks up with her.

After all those events, at work, a famous TV food critic, nicknamed "Everyday Gourmet," comes to the pizzeria, and the shocked employees try creating the best pizza they ever made. Not showing any emotion towards the pizza that he eats, Gourmet leaves, leaving the girls in suspense. However, a few days later, Gourmet gives the pizzeria his highest rating, calling it "superb."

In the end, Kat receives her last paycheck from Tim (which she tears up and throws away), and never sees him again. Jojo finally agrees to marry Bill, and at their wedding, Daisy and Charles reconcile. The film ends with the three girls together overlooking the water from the balcony of the restaurant, reminiscing about their time together.


In his film debut, Matt Damon has a very small part—his sole line in the film being, "Mom, do you want my green stuff?" while eating lobster. The title of the film was based on a pizza shop that caught the eye of Hollywood screenwriter Amy Holden Jones.[2] That restaurant, also named Mystic Pizza and located in Mystic, Connecticut, has been popular among both locals and tourists since 1973.[3]

Critical response

The film opened on October 21, 1988 to mostly favorable reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 78% at its VHS release.[4] The film received "two thumbs up" from popular film critics Siskel and Ebert,[5] giving particular praise to the three female leads, including Gish, whom Ebert likened to a "young Katharine Hepburn".[6] He also noted that the film "may someday become known for the movie stars it showcased back before they became stars."

Filming locations

Despite being set in Mystic,[7] most of the filming locations were in neighboring towns. The building used for the pizza restaurant was a converted home in Stonington Borough at 70 Water St.[8] After the film's release, the real-life Mystic Pizza building[9] in downtown Mystic was renovated to resemble the movie set. The Windsor family home, the wedding reception restaurant, the Peg Leg Pub pool hall, and the fishing docks are also in Stonington Borough. The famous hitchhiking incident takes place on North Main Street in Stonington Town. The Arujo home is in Pawcatuck; the lobster business where Mrs. Arujo works and the wedding church are in Noank. Tim Travers' home and the Windsors' country club are in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The most notable scenes that take place in Mystic are at the Mystic Seaport planetarium and at the drawbridge, where Jojo gets angry that Bill changed the name of his boat.[10] As with most movies, not all locations are geographically correct. For example, fishing boats rarely pass through the drawbridge, as the fishing docks have direct access to the sea from the Stonington peninsula.

Home media

On January 13, 2009, Mystic Pizza and Say Anything... were released as a double feature on DVD.[11] On April 5, 2011, Mystic Pizza was released on Blu-ray.[12]

References in popular culture

  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Alien from L.A.," Mystic Pizza is used as an example of a feminine film.
  • In the 30 Rock episode, "SeinfeldVision", Jenna Maroney reveals having spent her summer starring in Mystic Pizza: The Musical. She gains noticeable weight from having to eat 32 slices of pizza a week for the show. She later stars in Mystic Pizza: The Musical: The Movie for which she receives the NY Critics Association Award for "Best Actress in a Movie Based on a Musical Based on a Movie"
  • In one sub-plot of the Broken Lizard film, Puddle Cruiser, the main characters watch the film believing that Julia Roberts gets naked in it.
  • Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks are packaged with biographical details of mascot Finn, including his favorite film, Optimistic Pizza.
  • In Cougar Town, Laurie compares herself to Julia Roberts from Mystic Pizza when she visits the country club.
  • In the episode "Run Away, Little Boy" of Gilmore Girls, Paris (played by Liza Weil) compares the "whole small town, 'we don't let a clock run our lives' thing" from Stars Hollow with Mystic Pizza.
  • In The Lonely Island song "No Homo", the group feels the need to emphasize that knowing all the lines of Mystic Pizza is not homo.
  • In Parks and Recreation, the character Ron Swanson only knows Julia Roberts as "the toothy girl from Mystic Pizza".


  1. ^ Variety film review; 12 October 1988
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Mystic Pizza". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  7. ^ Mystic is a village and census-designated place (CDP), it is not a legally recognized municipality in the state of Connecticut. Rather, Mystic is located within the towns of Groton (west of the Mystic River, and also known as West Mystic) and Stonington (east of the Mystic River).
  8. ^ 70 Water St, Stonington, Connecticut 06378 - Google Maps
  9. ^ Mystic Pizza 56 W Main St Groton, CT 06355 - Google Maps
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Mystic Pizza/Say Anything Double Feature (2009)". Retrieved February 19, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Mystic Pizza Blu-ray". Retrieved January 2, 2013. 

External links

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