Mystic Pizza

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Mystic Pizza
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDonald Petrie
Screenplay by
Story byAmy Holden Jones
Produced by
  • Mark Levinson
  • Scott Rosenfelt
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Edited by
Music byDavid McHugh
Distributed byThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates
  • October 18, 1988 (1988-10-18) (premiere)[1]
  • October 21, 1988 (1988-10-21) (United States)[1]
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[1]
Box office$14 million[1]

Mystic Pizza is a 1988 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Donald Petrie in his feature directorial debut, and starring Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor.[2] It follows the coming-of-age of three young Portuguese-American friends who work at a pizza parlor in a seaside Connecticut town. The film received positive reviews, with Roger Ebert declaring at the time, "I have a feeling that Mystic Pizza may someday become known for the movie stars it showcased back before they became stars. All of the young actors in this movie have genuine gifts."[3][4] It marked Matt Damon's film debut.


Sisters Kat and Daisy Araújo and their friend Josephina "JoJo" Barboza are Portuguese-American young adult women working as waitresses at Mystic Pizza, a pizza parlor owned by Leona and her husband Vic in the fishing town of Mystic, Connecticut.

JoJo faints at her wedding to Bill because she has cold feet about making a lifetime commitment. Nonetheless, she wants to continue having sex with Bill until she is ready to be married. Bill eventually breaks up with her because she will not make a commitment.

Kat and Daisy are total opposites. Kat, the younger sister, is an aspiring astronomer with several jobs, including working at the planetarium of the Whaling Museum in the Mystic Seaport and Mystic Pizza. Kat has been accepted to Yale University on a partial scholarship while glamorous Daisy's goal is to have as much fun as possible. Their mother is pleased with Kat, but often questions Daisy's life choices and worries that her carefree daughter’s future isn’t certain.

Daisy meets Charles, a rich young man at a bar. The two are immediately attracted to each other and begin a relationship, much to her mother's dismay. At a family dinner, Charles's relatives unintentionally make insensitive comments about Daisy's Portuguese ethnicity, and Charles overreacts. Daisy breaks up with him, accusing him of using her to rebel against his parents.

Kat finds herself infatuated with her employer Tim, an architect and Yale (class of 1979) graduate, who hired her to babysit his four-year-old daughter Phoebe while his wife works in England. A relationship ultimately develops between them that Kat believes to be love, and they end up sleeping together.

The sisters argue over Kat’s dalliance with Tim, Daisy bitter that Kat continues to judge her for being promiscuous while carrying on an actual affair with a married man. However, when Tim’s wife Nicki returns, Kat's illusions are shattered. Daisy consoles her devastated sister, and they bond.

A famous television food critic called "The Fireside Gourmet" unexpectedly visits Mystic Pizza. As Kat, Daisy, JoJo, and Leona watch from the counter, he takes a few bites of one pizza slice, jots notes in his notebook, and leaves after paying the check. His approval can do wonders for a restaurant, but they are not optimistic.

A few days later, Tim brings Phoebe to Mystic Pizza because she wants to say goodbye to Kat as the family are leaving town. Tim gives Kat a check to help cover her tuition expenses, but she tears it up just as the Fireside Gourmet’s show latest airs and he gives the restaurant his highest rating (4 stars), calling the pizza "superb". The pizzeria’s phone immediately starts ringing, with Leona laughing as she informs the caller that no reservations are needed.

JoJo finally marries Bill, Kat accepts a loan from Leona, and Daisy and Charlie reconcile at the wedding. The film ends with the three girls overlooking the water from the restaurant's balcony, reminiscing about their time together and wondering about the future.


Production and filming locations[edit]

The Mystic Pizza restaurant in downtown Mystic

The title of the film was inspired by a pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut. Screenwriter Amy Holden Jones was summering in the area and chose Mystic Pizza as the focus of her story about the lives of three young waitresses.[5]

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]

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

Filming began October 12, 1987 and was due to last six weeks.[1] The film's plot is set in Mystic,[6] 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.[7] After the film's release, the real-life Mystic Pizza building[8] in downtown Mystic was renovated to resemble the film 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.[9]


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]


The film received mostly favorable reviews, which praised the performances by the three lead actresses. It received "two thumbs up" from popular film critics Siskel and Ebert,[10] giving particular praise to the three female leads, including Gish, whom Ebert likened to a "young Katharine Hepburn".[3] 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]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 78% based on reviews from 27 critics. The website's critics consensus reads: "Mystic Pizza is like its namesake food: it's cheesy, topped with romance, and rises to the occasion."[11] On Metacritic, it has a score of 60% based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[12]

Home media[edit]

On January 13, 2009, Mystic Pizza and Say Anything... were released as a double feature on DVD.[13] On April 5, 2011, Mystic Pizza was released on Blu-ray.[14]

Stage musical adaptation[edit]

On January 22, 2019, it was announced that Mystic Pizza would be adapted into a stage musical. Melissa Etheridge would write the score, while Gordon Greenberg would direct and co-write the book with Sas Goldberg.[15] This came years after a fictional Broadway musical adaptation of the film had served as a plot point in the early part of season 2 of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock in 2007.[16]

The world premiere of the musical version of Mystic Pizza was produced by Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine from September 1, 2021, through October 2, 2021. The production, which featured songs by Melissa Etheridge and other pop songs of the 1980s, starred Krystina Alabado as Daisy, Gianna Yanelli as Jojo and Kyra Kennedy as Kat. The production was directed by Casey Hushion, featured a book by Sandy Rustin, choreography by Liz Ramos, musical supervision by Carmel Dean, with Kristin Stowell as music director. Executive producers were Michael Barra and Allison Bressi of Lively McCabe Entertainment.[17]

See also[edit]

  • Little Italy, a 2018 romantic film, also directed by Donald Petrie and set in a pizza parlor
  • Townies, a 1996 sitcom with a similar premise


  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. October 12, 1988. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (October 21, 1988). "Mystic Pizza". Chicago Sun-Times.
  4. ^ Smith, Sean (October 18, 2013). "'Mystic Pizza' -- 1988". Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  5. ^ "Mystic Pizza About Us". Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  8. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  9. ^ "Mystic Pizza Movie Filming Locations - The 80s Movies Rewind".
  10. ^ Siskel, Gene; Ebert, Roger. October 22, 1988. At the Movies. Season 3. Episode 6. Buena Vista Television.
  11. ^ "Mystic Pizza (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  12. ^ "Mystic Piza". Metacritic.
  13. ^ "Mystic Pizza/Say Anything Double Feature (2009)". Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  14. ^ "Mystic Pizza Blu-ray". Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Evans, Greg (January 22, 2019). "Melissa Etheridge Prepping Musical 'Mystic Pizza' For Stage Delivery". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  16. ^ DeVille, Chris (January 22, 2019). "Melissa Etheridge Writing Songs For Mystic Pizza Musical, Thus Fulfilling 30 Rock's Prophecy". Stereogum. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  17. ^ "Krystina Alabado Stars in Mystic Pizza Musical World Premiere Beginning September 1". September 2021.

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