Perfect Pizza for Pretty Women
In "Mystic Pizza" everyone wants to know Leona's secret to her speciality Pizza. Well I know that secret, it is 3 friends, 3 stories, 3 cliches with a side order of subplots all blended with care and charm. Because basically that is what "Mystic Pizza" is, a very charming, fun, even delightful coming of age movie which manages to take 3 frequently used cliche storylines and turns them into what is a surprisingly enjoyable movie, one which firmly targets a female audience but still has enough charm and humour to make it watch able for men as well.
Jojo (Lili Taylor - The Notorious Bettie Page) and her best friend's sisters Daisy (Julia Roberts - Larry Crowne) and Kat (Annabeth Gish - At Risk) work at the popular pizza parlour in Mystic, run by the motherly Leona (Conchata Ferrell - Erin Brockovich). Kat, who plans to head off to Yale finds herself becoming involved with an older married man who she baby-sits for, Daisy the more fiery one finds herself being romanced by Charles (Adam Storke) the college son of a well to do family whilst Jojo struggles with her own relationship and commitment issues despite being in love.
As already mentioned, the storyline to "Mystic Pizza", or storylines as that should be, firmly resides in the cliche taking some firm favourites of both coming of age and romance movies and combining them into the one movie. As such it is to be frankly seriously predictable with one storyline taking a romance between different social classes, another taking in love with an older married man and the third one the fear off commitment. It rarely deviates from the formulaic path of any of these cinema standards, although it throws a couple of minor twists which have no lasting impact but are well crafted. To add to all this there are a couple of minor sub plots, one which adds some charm is about Leona and her pizza parlour but otherwise there is nothing which makes the actual storylines stand out as being anything original.
But whilst the storylines are distinctly average the fact that "Mystic Pizza" combines all 3, shared out between 3 friends makes it more entertaining than your standard coming of age movie which generally only focuses on one. In amongst all the obvious there is quite a bit of charm which draws you into the storylines, well two of them as the commitment one doesn't quite have the impact of the others. It's this charm and balance between all 3 which helps make "Mystic Pizza" a movie which ends up more than initially expected.
It is also aided by some nice performances with Annabeth Gish delivering a touching performance as Kat who finds her wistful dreams of love with the older man not as wonderful as she hoped. It's a lovely performance by Gish which delivers much of the movies drama and emotion, mainly down to the storyline which demands a more sensitive performance. Alongside Gish is Julia Roberts, pre "Pretty Woman" days, delivering a character as feisty and lively as that in "Pretty Woman". It's a good performance with a touch of humour thrown in to stop it from being to heavy. The same with Lili Taylor as Jojo whose performance firmly reside on the more humorous side. The things is that there is a natural blend to their performances complimenting each other so that "Mystic Pizza" never becomes too heavy or too fluffy.
Aside from the 3 main stars there is also Vincent D'Onofrio who is seriously under used as Jojo's boyfriend Bill and Adam Storke gives a slight Tom Cruise impersonation as the rich Charles Gordon Windsor, Jr.. But the nicest performance comes from the motherly Conchata Ferrell as pizza parlour owner Leona who treats the 3 friends as if they were her own daughters.
What this all boils down to is that "Mystic Pizza" is a very predictable movie and to be honest it doesn't try to be anything different, firmly residing in the romantic coming of age area. But what it does it does very well, blending 3 stereotypical storylines with some nice performances to make for a charming and quite memorable movie which will appeal more to women than men, but is not purely a chick-flick.