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Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by Matt Hough, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Matt Hough
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    Mystic Pizza (Blu-ray)
    Directed by  Donald Petrie

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1988
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec  
    Running Time: 104 minutes
    Rating: R
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, French
    Subtitles:  SDH, French

    Region:  A
    MSRP:  $ 19.99

    Release Date: April 5, 2011

    Review Date: April 14, 2011



    The Film



    Though hindsight is most helpful in these matters, it really doesn’t take much of a psychic to see which of the six young stars of Donald Petrie’s Mystic Pizza was destined for superstardom. All six are fine actors and create their characters with wonderful, exact precision, but Julia Roberts just has that sparkle about her that the others, while terrific performers all, just don’t quite achieve. It’s no surprise that her joyous performance in this movie combined with the tearjerking aspects of her next Steel Magnolias enabled her to become the go-to young actress in Hollywood at this particular period.


    Three waitresses at the Mystic Pizza parlor in Mystic, Connecticut, are finding young adulthood particularly trying times for them. Jojo (Lili Taylor) bolts from her longtime boy friend Bill (Vincent D'Onofrio) in the middle of their wedding because she’s not ready to make such a commitment and settle down. Kat, waiting to begin her first semester at Yale studying astronomy, becomes a part time nanny to the four-year old daughter (Porscha Radcliffe) of dashing young contractor Tim Travers (William R. Moses) and begins falling for him thinking there might be hope for her since his marriage appears to be in trouble. Kat’s sister Daisy (Julia Roberts) is her antithesis, uninhibited with boys, always on the lookout for a good time, and uninterested in scholarship. She catches the eye of the wealthy Ivy Leaguer Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr. (Adam Storke) who has dropped out of law school and is rudderless at the moment enjoying spending time with someone as outgoing and unrestrained as Daisy. But life has a way of throwing wrenches into even the calmest of relationships, and each girl must deal with unexpected strife in their pursuits of happiness with their various love interests.


    Among the names of the four screenwriters for Mystic Pizza is Tony, Oscar, and Pulitzer Prize winner Alfred Uhry (Amy Jones, Perry Howze, and Randy Howze are also named with Jones supplying the screen story), and the creator of Driving Miss Daisy has helped provide some wonderfully bracing dialogue for the three friends and their beaux along with tackling such subjects as friendship, love, and class conflict. Particularly enchanting is the story of Kat and Tim’s slowly growing attraction, aided unquestionably by the expert playing of the actors and the unrushed pacing of director Donald Petrie to throw them together sexually. Of the relationships, this one seems the most natural and appealing: two good people drawn in by each other’s innate intelligence and decency. Roberts’ topsy-turvy dalliance with Mr. Upper Crust is also quite engrossing leading to a couple of the film’s most hilarious slapstick sequences, hitchhiking a la It Happened One Night and most particularly the scene with a Porsche convertible and a couple of vats of freshly caught fish. Petrie also creates a wonderful family atmosphere at the Mystic Pizza establishment, too, as the three girls along with their stern but loving boss Leona (Conchata Ferrell) hold court.


    Julia Roberts does steal the show from her other two female co-stars through her own personal allure along with a more vivaciously written character prone to grander gestures and more flamboyant emotions. Annabeth Gish makes Kat an appealing creation lacking the spark of her more spirited sister but forging a more profound depth of feeling at her most extreme moments. Lili Taylor is the odd-girl-out here with a character who’s less interesting and with problems which don’t seem as serious or as involving. Of the young men in the cast, William R. Moses comes closest to capturing the same kind of sparkle among the men that Julia Roberts demonstrates among the women (which makes his lack of a superstar career somewhat perplexing). His appeal is palpable for the viewer making Kat’s falling for him something easily understandable. Vincent D'Onofrio doesn’t have quite the scene-stealing role he had in Full Metal Jacket, but he’s effective in the least developed role among the stars. Adam Storke convinces as the silver spoon preppie dallying on the other side of the tracks. Conchata Ferrell gives another wonderful performance as the owner of the pizza parlor guarding her secret recipe with her life while Joanna Merlin has a couple of important scenes as the mother of Kat and Daisy. Louis Turenne has some very amusing moments as a snooty food critic whose review of the legendary pizza at the parlor could make or break the firm’s bottom line.  


     Video Quality



    The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully replicated and presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color saturation levels vary during the film with most scenes nicely delineated but occasionally featuring reds that are a bit too bold or color that's a tiny bit undersaturated. Fleshtones look very natural. Sharpness is likewise erratic often appearing beautifully crisp but occasionally suffering from relatively soft medium and long shots. Black levels vary from fair to very good. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.



    Audio Quality



    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track offers good fidelity throughout the film’s running time. Pop songs and David McHugh’s music score has been well recorded and comes through with very good clarity and appeal. Dialogue has also been expertly recorded and is always clear and easily discernible. There are no age-related artifacts like hiss or crackle to spoil the audio experience.



    Special Features



    The film’s theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p and runs for 1 ¾ minutes.



    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)


    Mystic Pizza is an engaging coming-of-age film with six very appealing young actors in the leading roles. The Blu-ray presents the movie in an attractive audio and video transfer that will likely please fans of the film and its actors a great deal. Recommended!




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC


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