1 January 1990

Mystic Pizza (1989)

(USA 1989;dist: Newvision Film; rt 104 mins)

Mystic Pizza has modest aspirations: it aims to draw the viewer's identification only, it seems, for the film's duration. Beyond that it enters the realm of the forgettable: that ever-growing catalogue of 'films-I-have-seen'. Rack up another one. Get ready for the next.
Not that this viewer's identification was ever held with gay abandon. Mystic Pizza plays out a string of Hollywood cliches all aimed at clinching the sale - ie.getting you to love the characters and be right in there gunning for the predictably happy outcome to their trials. This is a feel-good-again movie, where everyone's happy by film's end, leaving you with a feeling in your stomach like too much cheesecake.
Lip service has been paid to '80s shifts in mores - there's swearing, open talk of contraception, the central characters are all women, etc. But that's where contemporaneity ends - it's all 'seek and ye shall find', 'diligence will be rewarded', 'follow your feelings', like some scripted version of Snakes and Ladders. And, like a dutiful daughter, the film effaces it's technical performance directing the viewer to transparently concentrate on the story.
To be fair, the film isn't irredeemable: it is well paced, cinematography is of a high standard, all the actors try hard and are, indeed likeable, but, really, this film is made for Americans, who really go for this sort of thing. However, if life-decisions, blossoming adulthood, and sexual awakening among the post-pubescent of a fishing village in New England sounds like fun to you then Mystic Pizza is recommended. Others might find the pastry thiick with too much cheese buried under layers of overcooked ham.
-Michael Hutak

First published in Filmnews

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