Mystic Pizza

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Mystic Pizza
Mystic pizza.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDonald Petrie
Produced byMark Levinson
Scott Rosenfelt
Screenplay byAmy Holden Jones
Perry Howze
Randy Howze
Alfred Uhry
Story byAmy Holden Jones
Music byDavid McHugh
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Edited byDon Brochu
Marion Rothman
Distributed byThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date
  • October 18, 1988 (1988-10-18) (Premiere[1])
  • October 21, 1988 (1988-10-21)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[1]
Box office$14 million[1]

Mystic Pizza is a 1988 American coming-of-age film directed by Donald Petrie and starring Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, and Lili Taylor.[2]

The film marked Petrie's feature film directorial debut and Matt Damon's film debut. The film has gained a large cult following since its release.


The film is a coming of age journey through the romantic lives of sisters Kat Araújo (Annabeth Gish) and Daisy Araújo (Julia Roberts) and their friend Jojo Barbosa (Lili Taylor). The three waitress at Mystic Pizza owned by Leona (Conchata Ferrell) in Mystic, Connecticut, which is presented as a fishing town with a large Portuguese-American population. The film also touches on an Old World work ethic.

Sisters Kat and Daisy are total opposites. Kat, the younger sibling, studies astronomy, works at the planetarium in the famous Whaling Museum of The Mystic Seaport, and has been accepted to Yale University on a partial scholarship, so she works at the restaurant at night and as a nanny by day to obtain the rest of the money for school. Daisy just wants to get out of Mystic, and to have as much fun as possible while she's still stuck there. Kat is the apple of her Portuguese mother's eye, while Daisy is not because her mother feels she is more wild and is not as goal-oriented as Kat.

Daisy meets a handsome young man named Charles (Adam Storke) at a bar. The two are immediately attracted to each other and begin a relationship, much to her mother's dismay. But at a family dinner, his relatives unintentionally make insensitive comments about her ethnicity, and Charles overreacts. Daisy breaks up with him, believing that his family's remarks were harmless and that he was simply using her to show up his parents.

There is 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 that she believes is love, and they have sex. But when the wife returns, Kat's illusions are shattered. Daisy comforts her devastated baby sister and they bond.

Jojo wants to have sex with her boyfriend Bill (Vincent D'Onofrio), whom she attempted to marry 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 seeks 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.

Later, a famous TV food critic nicknamed "The Fireside Gourmet" (Louis Turenne) visits the pizzeria. As Kat, Daisy, Jojo, and Leona watch from the counter, he takes a few bites of one slice, jots notes in his notebook, and leaves after paying the check. His approval can do wonders for a restaurant, but they're not optimistic. However, a few days later the critic gives the pizzeria his highest rating, calling it "superb." The restaurant phone immediately starts ringing, with Leona laughing as she informs the caller that no reservations are needed.

In the end, Tim brings Phoebe to Mystic Pizza because she wants to say goodbye to Kat. Tim gives her a check to help cover her tuition expenses, but she tears it up; later she accepts a check from Leona. Jojo finally agrees to marry Bill, and Daisy and Charles reconcile at their wedding. The film ends with the three girls together overlooking the water from the balcony of the restaurant, reminiscing about their time together.


Production and filming locations[edit]

The Mystic Pizza restaurant in downtown Mystic.

The title of the film was inspired by a pizza shop that caught the eye of screenwriter Amy Holden Jones:[3] Mystic Pizza restaurant located in Mystic, Connecticut, which has been popular among both locals and tourists since 1973.[4]

Jones was set to direct but was replaced by Petrie who made his feature film directorial debut.[1] The film was also Alfred Uhry's screenwriting debut.[1]

Filming began October 12, 1987 and was due to last six weeks.[1] The film's plot is set in Mystic,[5] but 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.[6] After the film's release, the real-life Mystic Pizza building[7] 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 were also filmed in Stonington Borough. The hitchhiking incident takes place on North Main Street in Stonington Town. The Araújo home is in Pawcatuck, Connecticut; the lobster business and the wedding church are in Noank, Connecticut. Tim Travers' home and the Windsors' country club are in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The most notable scenes that take place in Mystic were filmed at the Mystic Seaport planetarium and at the Mystic River Bascule Bridge.[8]

70 Water Street in Stonington. Filming location for the Mystic Pizza restaurant


Goldwyn spent a company record $6.5 million on prints and advertising and other marketing activities,[2] including tie-ins with Domino's Pizza and others.[1]


The film had 100 pre-opening screenings[2][1] and premiered in Mystic, Connecticut on October 18, 1988.[1] It was released on October 21, 1988.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly favorable reviews, who praised the performances by the three lead actresses. It received "two thumbs up" from popular film critics Siskel and Ebert,[9] giving particular praise to the three female leads, including Gish, whom Ebert likened to a "young Katharine Hepburn".[10] He also noted that the film "may someday become known for the movie stars it showcased back before they became stars." Variety called it "a deftly told coming-of-age story about three young femmes as they explore their different destinies, mostly through romance, it’s genuine and moving, with enough edge to impress contemporary audiences."[2]

The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 77%.[11]

Home media[edit]

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

Musical adaptation[edit]

It was announced on January 22, 2019 that a musical adaptation of the movie will be adapted for the stage. Melissa Etheridge will write the score; Gordon Greenberg will direct and write the book with Sas Goldberg.[citation needed] This comes years after a fictional broadway musical adaptation of Mystic Pizza had served as a plot point in the early part of Season 2 of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mystic Pizza at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b c d "Film reviews: Mystic Pizza". Variety. 12 October 1988. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  3. ^ "EPIX – Watch Thousands of Movies and Originals on Every Screen".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-09-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Mystic is a village and census-designated place (CDP), it is not a legally recognized municipality in the state of Connecticut. Mystic is actually located within the towns of Groton and Stonington.
  6. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  7. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  8. ^ "Mystic Pizza Movie Filming Locations - The 80s Movies Rewind".
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Mystic Pizza". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ "Mystic Pizza (1988)".
  12. ^ "Mystic Pizza/Say Anything Double Feature (2009)". Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  13. ^ "Mystic Pizza Blu-ray". Retrieved January 2, 2013.

External links[edit]