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Mystic Pizza (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 14, 2011 by  



“Mystic Pizza” is an enjoyable coming-of-age film that retains its humor and youthfulness nearly 25-years-later.  Julia Roberts shines in her feature film debut!  For fans of the film, although a barebones Blu-ray release, it’s worth the upgrade from DVD.

Images courtesy of © 1988 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mystic Pizza

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1988

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French Mono, Subtitles: English SDH, French

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

Directed by Donald Petrie

Story by Amy Holden Jones

Screenplay by Amy Holden Jones, Perry Howze, Randy Howze, Alfred Uhry

Producer: Mark Levinson, Scott M. Rosenfelt

Executive Producer: Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

Line Producer: Susan Vogelfang

Music by David McHugh

Cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt

Edited by Don Brochu, Marion Rothman

Casting By Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins

Production Design by David Chapman

Art Direction by Mark Haack

Set Decoration by Clay A. Griffith

Costume Design by Jennifer von Mayrhauser

Starring:

Annabeth Gish as Kat Arujo

Julia Roberts as Daisy Arujo

Lili Taylor as Jojo

Vincent D’Onofrio as Bill

William R. Moses as Tim Travers

Adam Storke as Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr.

Conchata Ferrell as Leona

Joanna Merlin as Mrs. Arujo

Porscha Radcliffe as Phoebe Travers

Arthur Walsh as Manny

John Fiore as Jake

“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).

In 1988, Julia Roberts made her feature film debut in the coming-of-age film “Mystic Pizza”.

Directed by Donald Petrie (“Grumpy Old Men”, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “Miss Congeniality) and featured a screenplay by Amy Holden Jones (“Indecent Proposal”, “Beethoven”), Perry and Randy Howze (“Chances Are”, “Maid to Order”) and Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”).

The film received positive reviews from the critics and is best known for launching the careers of Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor and a film where a young Matt Damon makes an appearance.

“Mystic Pizza” takes place in Mystic, Connecticut, a fishing town with a large Portuguese American population and focuses on the lives of three friends, Jojo Barboza (played by Lili Taylor), Daisy Aruo (played by Julia Roberts) and her younger sister Kat Arujo (played by Annabeth Gish).  All three work for the pizza restaurant, Mystic Pizza.

On the day of Jojo’s wedding to Bill (played by Vincent D’Onofrio), the whole thought of marriage starts to hit her while the priest is reading their vows and she faints.  The wedding is canceled but Jojo feels that she is not ready to be married.  She loves Bill but she doesn’t want to get married or have children now, but unfortunately, it’s something that Bill really wants.

Meanwhile, Daisy is the grown up sister who tends to mess around with many guys and goes to nightclubs.  Unlike her sister Kat, who is attending college at Yale and has four jobs, Daisy knows that she doesn’t really do much of anything but be with guys, work and drink beer.

But one night while at the bar with Jojo and Bill, Daisy spots Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr. (played by Adam Storke), a guy who looks rich and he and his friends look out of place by being at the bar that she attends.  But both meet each other’s eyes and when she beats him at a game of pool, she notices that she is smitten by him but knows that she probably will never see him again.

As for Kat, she is trying to make money for the next semester at Yale.  So, she takes up another job as a babysitter for Yale graduate Tim Travers (played by William R. Moses).  While his wife is away in London, he is busy working on reconstruction for a building in town and hires Kat to watch over his daughter.

While Jo tries to avoid Bill’s discussion of marriage, Daisy’s life seems to be getting better as she notices the wealthy guy she met at the bar, Charles at her home.  It appears that he was so smitten by her, he has been looking for her and eventually the two go out.

Kat also seems happier as she loves babysitting Tim’s daughter but she also finds him so intriguing as he is compassionate but also intelligent and they have a lot in common and begins to fall for him.  But with Tim being married, will their attraction lead to an affair?

So, as these three young woman try to deal with their relationships, they also try to figure out the secret recipe used on the pizza that their boss Leona (played by Conchat Ferrell) is using but also hoping that the TV news food critic will come and try their excellent pizza.

What is in store for Jo, Daisy and Kat with the men in their lives…  happiness or pain?

VIDEO:

“Mystic Pizza” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  The good news is that the picture quality is better than its DVD counterpart but the not-so-good news is that the film does show its age.  It’s something that I’ve noticed with a lot of ’80s films on Blu-ray and it’s the fact that the film elements used at the time, don’t always look so great.

In the case of “Mystic Pizza”, there are times where you can see a lot of noise, you can see dust and speckles, banding and also some artifacts.  Granted, it’s not throughout the film but it’s there.  But there are times where the picture quality does look absolutely great.  In one scene, during a closeup of Julia Roberts face, you can see the detail of her skin which for me, was not noticeable on the original DVD release but I noticed it much more in the Blu-ray release.

So, for the most part, “Mystic Pizza” definitely looks better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mystic Pizza” is presented in English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround and French Mono.  The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film but there are times you get schmaltzy ’80s music (unfortunately, the ’80s music doesn’t hold up too well nearly 25-years later).  But English dialogue is clear and for the most part, the soundtrack is appropriate for this film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mystic Pizza” comes with the following special feature:

  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:50) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Mystic Pizza”.

An enjoyable coming-of-age film that retains its humor and youthfulness nearly 25-years-later.

During a time where people grew up with “The Brat Pack” and youthfulness was typically seen in film such as “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The Breakfast Club” in the mid-80s, it was refreshing to have new faces in the late ’80s and to see these young women, who were not known at the time, really carry this film.

There was no doubt at the time that Julia Roberts was going to be a star.  She had the looks and she could act and while “Steel Magnolias” which followed after “Mystic Pizza” was not exactly the vehicle that would launch her to stardom, when “Pretty Woman” came in 1990, America knew that she would be the sweetheart of the big screen. But “Mystic Pizza” is the film to see how the actress in her first feature film.

And actresses Lili Taylor and Annabeth Gish would also give a solid performance.  Llil Taylor was perfect as the naughty/conflicted friend Jojo while Gish played the opposite of Roberts, being the more studious and prudish younger sister.

The writing for “Mystic Pizza” was also well-done as you had a realistic storyline to carry the women through an emotional roller coaster as the three friends would experience their highs and lows together, throughout the film and it was tastefully done and believable.  Call it a “chick flick” or a coming-of-age film but I can tell you that back in 1988, “Mystic Pizza” was a refreshing film to watch.

And to watch it again in 2011, the storyline holds up, the music…not so much but it was great to see this film again and to watch it now in HD.

While the Blu-ray may not be the perfect release as it doesn’t contain any special features but the theatrical trailer, nor is the picture quality the greatest, it’s still a major step-up from its DVD counterpart and I can easily recommend this film to fans who owned the original DVD.

Overall, “Mystic Pizza” is a wonderful, fun and touching film that was as entertaining now as it was back in 1988.  Although a barebones Blu-ray release, for fans of the film, I recommend the upgrade!  Definitely a comedy worth checking out 25-years after its initial release.

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