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Mystic Pizza

If anyone is still wondering why Julia Roberts was the first Hollywood actress to merit a $20 million-per-movie paycheck, just check out Mystic Pizza. It's all there — the smile, the laugh, the mop of reddish-brown curls, the movie-star-waiting-to-happen charm. This 1988 romantic dramedy (directed by Grumpy Old Men and Miss Congeniality helmer Donald Petrie) wasn't quite her breakout role — she had to wait until 1989's Steel Magnolias and, of course, 1990's Pretty Woman for that — but it's proof that this Georgia peach was definitely on her way up. It's not surprising that Roberts' face is the one front-and-center on the boxcover either, what with her A-list career after this film — but marketing motivations aside, there's a reason Mystic Pizza still has a fond place in many Gen Xers' hearts as a classic '80s slumber-party movie. The story of one summer in the life of Daisy, Kat, and Jojo — three lifelong friends dealing with love while they sling pizza in the seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut — is sweet and poignant, a thoughtful look at the perils and joys of falling in love. All three girls are perfectly cast: Annabeth Gish is both innocent and reckless as Yale-bound Kat, Roberts struts her stuff as Kat's flirty-yet-fragile older sister Daisy, and the always-excellent Lili Taylor provides the lion's share of the humor as commitment-phobic Jojo. Gish does a particularly convincing job in her scenes with William R. Moses, who plays the married man Kat babysits for — and ends up infatuated with. When she's with him, Kat sees herself as a passionate woman, but it's all too obvious that she's really still a vulnerable girl. Look for nice supporting performances from Vincent D'Onofrio as Jojo's fiancé Bill and Adam Storke as Daisy's white-bread boyfriend Charles Windsor. And keep your eyes peeled during the Windsor family dinner scene for a very young Matt Damon's blink-and-you'll-miss-it big-screen debut as Charlie's younger brother Steamer (er, Steamer?!). MGM's DVD edition of Mystic Pizza doesn't have much in the way of extras — just the theatrical trailer, scene selection, French and Spanish language tracks, and French and Spanish subtitles — but it looks and sounds good. The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is crystal clear (all the better to marvel at Roberts' phenomenally teased '80s hair), and the Dolby Digital audio doesn't disappoint. And as long as you can hear Roberts delivering prophetic lines like "Don't worry about me — I'm not going to be slinging pizza for the rest of my life," that's all that matters, right?
—Betsy Bozdech

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