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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mystic Pizza (Released in 1988) - A coming of age movie - Starring Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Lili Taylor

Released in 1988, Mystic Pizza is a coming of age film directed by Donald Pitrie. The movie follows the life of 3 girls, in the short span of time between high school and college. Even though life after high school and the movies made on it are more than a dozen, Mystic Pizza captures the spirit of anticipation and finding oneself so as to prepare for life ahead, with complete ease.
The 3 girls who steal the spotlight in the movie are 2 Portuguese-American sisters and friends, Kat and Daisy (played by Annabeth Gish and Julia Roberts), and their friend Jojo (played by Lili Taylor). The movie opens in a small resort town by the name of Mystic, Connecticut. We start the movie to find Jojo leaving her fiancé - Bill, (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) at the altar. She gets back with Bill, but is not ready to commit to marriage. Bill however puts his foot down and decides he does not believe in sex before marriage, leaving Jojo in a conundrum about whether her feelings are truly deep or just superficial.
Jojo, and Kat and Daisy are all shown to be working at a Pizzeria run by Leona, (played by Conchata Farrell) who is famous for her secret sauce. Meanwhile, Kat and Daisy may be sisters, but are quite opposite in every regard. While Kat has aspirations of perusing astronomy and will be going to Yale on a partial scholarship in the fall, Daisy is more laid back and wants to find love, through any means possible. Kat is the apple of her mother’s eye, while Daisy is more the black sheep.
Each of the girls gets their “temporary” Mr. Right only to have love blow up in their faces. While Kat maybe goal oriented, she is also naïve when it comes to love and idealism. She goes to babysit for 30 year old Tim (played by William Moses) an Anglo-American Yale graduate. Kat is mighty impressed by him, and starts to take a fancy to him, even though she knows he has a wife and child. She convinces herself that he would leave his wife.

Kat and Tim have intellectual conversations and both are impressed by the other, their idealism gradually turning to “love”, as Tim starts taking a liking to her, more because she is young and fresh, than because of her intellect. Meanwhile, Daisy is out one evening with her friends for a few drinks, when in walks Mr. Right. She is immediately attracted to his rich bad boy attitude, all the more, when he throws bulls eyes on the dart board after tequila shots. They start talking and she starts dating him.
The movie follows the 3 girls in their budding romance over a few months. Each love story turns sour, and teaches the girls a hard lesson. But, instead of making it preachy and overdramatic, the movie seems light and effortless. It does not try to force a point across but subtly keeps moving ahead. With the help of their “love interests”, the girls discover a lot about themselves and what they want in life. Rather than being a movie about girls in love, the movie is about how these girls discover their standards for love through the mistakes they make.
It is interesting to watch Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor work their magic in the movie. Even though the setting is that of a small resort town, the characters created are smart and react in wonderfully unexpected ways. The movie is refreshing and well executed, not leaving room for clichés.  While Mystic Pizza did not do very well in the box office when it released, it started getting a sort of cult following over the years, with a lot of other movies, sitcoms and songs making references to Mystic Pizza.

Mystic Pizza (Released in 1988) - A coming of age movie - Starring Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Lili Taylor

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