Anne T. Donahue
August 28, 2014 4:25 pm

Mystic Pizza is a pizza party of the greatest variety. There’s Julia Roberts-in-the-80s, as well as Matt Damon in his feature film debut, which is just NUTS.

Now let’s slice up this wheel of coming-of-age romantic comedies. Here are 10 things I’ve learned from Mystic Pizza.

1. “Coming of age” somehow always translates into “a romantic something-or-other” and that’s okay

So Mystic Pizza is best described as a “coming-of-age” movie, which it absolutely is, obviously. Kat, Daisy aka Julia Roberts, and Jojo all end up learning about who they are/what they want/what they don’t in life via love, and while I am the first to say you absolutely do NOT need romantic relationships to turn you into the person you become, I will also say that sometimes it happens.

Like, ultimately, if you’re a boss-ass b, you will be a boss-ass b forever. BUT sometimes it takes a great relationship or the worst human you’ve ever met to set you on that course. Sometimes it’s the opposite! For a long time—in my mid-20s—I was very adverse to the idea of being THAT influenced by the dudes of my past. But the older I get? The more I realize, sure. They played a part. But they’re also not going to be my defining factors. Which I like about Mystic Pizza. Because ultimately, it’s still a movie about two sisters and a pal just figuring it out.

2. Kat and Daisy’s mom is the perfect example of how not to be a mom

I have a theory (and I don’t have brothers and sisters, so I might be totally wrong) that when sisters are rivals—like they are in Mystic Pizza—it’s the parents that cause this. Like, who cares if Daisy chooses to be a little more free-wheeling in her youth? She’s still a person. And that doesn’t mean she’s worthy of less love than Kat. And hey, Kat’s cool too! She’s doing her thing. But if it weren’t for the constant comparisons via their mother, you kind of wonder whether Kat and Daisy would be more respectful of each other’s life choices. YOU KNOW?

3. This movie was technically a pre-cursor to Runaway Bride

And I say this because in Runaway Bride Julia Roberts leaves men at the altar, and in Mystic Pizza, her friend Jojo does the same thing and I’m not SAYING this is a prequel, but it is. It absolutely is. In my head, inspired by Jojo (slash developing an intense fear of commitment), Julia Roberts realizes she will never really be ready for marriage until she meets Richard Gere, whom she’d met already during her time in L.A. (aka Pretty Woman).

After, of course, she ends up with Ed Harris in the end, and becomes a stepmother to Jena Malone like the plot of Stepmom dictates. NOT THAT I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS A LOT/CONSTANTLY. (And now she takes care of her mom, Meryl Streep, so this movie really kind of comes full circle if you don’t think of any of the actual details at all.)

4. Jojo is actually a major boss

Can we talk about THAT? I am all for post-secondary education, absolutely, but damn it, it’s not for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me (two-time drop-out, hello), but it was the right choice for my best friends, who’ve got racks on racks on racks on racks of diplomas and fancy letters after their names. BUT here’s the thing: in 1988, someone who didn’t want to go to university? That was controversial. But here we were, right in the midst of the money-hungry Wall Street-era, and there’s Jojo, hoping to inherit the pizza place because that’s what she loves. How awesome is that? Girlfriend not only questions the institution of marriage, she questions why she should have to shell out for a degree she doesn’t want. She wants to be a businesswoman. Or in the words of Jay-Z, a business, woman. On her own terms. THIS MOVIE.

5. If Mystic Pizza was set in 2014, Charles Gordon Windsor Jr. would be in a band instead of a dart player

So Charles Gordon Windsor Jr. has been thrown out of law school, but he’s GREAT at darts and it’s all good because now without school he can concentrate on his dart game. While this was cool in 1988, it would be the opposite of that in 2014, I think.

6. In some capacity, we’ve all been Kat

I don’t want to hide anything from you guys so yes, I will admit it: I have been Kat. For too many years I was queen of the emotional affairs, going after attached guys and basically fulfilling their mental and emotional needs while completely ignoring my own. And, just like in Mystic Pizza, it was THE WORST. And do you know what’s the most frustrating thing of all? After Kat projects herself onto Yale Dad (that’s his name to me) and gets busted, Yale Dad still gets to be Yale Dad despite hurting two cool women. That is actually the worst part of this whole movie—this thing that is 100% true and happens all the damn time. The Kats of the world lose, and the Yale Dads keep on going. (Until they buy a Mustang at age 45 and it all goes downhill from there.)

7. Daisy’s call-out of Charles’ self-serving behavior is an inspiration to us all

So after Charles basically stages a freakout that allows him to defend his “poor” girlfriend against his “snobby” family, Daisy’s like OH HELL NO. Why? Because she knows what he did. He just wanted to White Knight it up. Well NOT TODAY, SON. Because here’s how many of us need a White Knight: none of us. None. We are fine, thank you. And first, if Charles’ family HAD been insulting, Daisy could’ve handled it. Second, who freaks out like that?

8. Daisy and Kat’s bonding over Yale Dad is why this movie is important

Here’s what I love about Mystic Pizza: it’s billed as a rom-com but is SO MUCH MORE. After Yale Dad is HORRIBLE, Daisy sees how hurt her sister is, and helps her accordingly. And REALISTICALLY. She doesn’t help through clichés or a shopping montage—she is THERE. And it’s amazing. And this is why we can watch this movie in 2014 and say, “Yeah, there are some dated references, but this is a movie about SISTERHOOD.”

9. So yes, Mystic Pizza is a love story, but it’s about familial love

Because ultimately, Jojo, Daisy, and Kat are family, and they realize the importance of that through a series of romantic relationships. So that said, the romantic relationships are the catalysts for understanding how important they are to each other. It’s not some movie about three girls just trying to find love. Who needs that? They’ve found it! The guys are just a bonus. (Or not, depending on who we’re talking about.)

(Images courtesy of Night Life Inc.)

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