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Is Mystic Pizza a True Story?

December 31, 2020
4 min read

The 1988 romantic-comedy and coming-of-age drama film, ‘Mystic Pizza,’ marked the directorial debut of Donald Petrie and the acting debut of Matt Damon on the silver screen. The film is also deemed noteworthy for starring pre-fame Julia Roberts in her second credited role. Members of the ensemble also include big names like Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, Vincent D’Onofrio, William R. Moses, and Adam Storke.

Besides its star-studded cast, the film is lauded for its use of perfect sceneries and authentic and witty dialogues, which all contribute to bringing the story to life.  The different characters of the film are beautifully drawn through the various sequences in the movie, establishing their differences and similarities alike. The film also sheds light on important social issues such as racism and infidelity.

‘Mystic Pizza’ gives off an impression that it is centered around the love-lives of the three friends who work at the ostensible eponymous pizza parlor. However, as the events and the scenes unravel, it soon becomes a reflection of the various moments of deliberations that a young adult must experience to set a path to follow for the rest of their life. Given the very realistic portrayal of life in the film, you might be wondering if it is based on true events. Let us find out.

Is Mystic Pizza Based On a True Story?

No, ‘Mystic Pizza’ is not based on a true story. Screenwriter Amy Holden Jones was holidaying in the area around Mystic, Connecticut, when she came across a quaint little pizza restaurant in the village, called Mystic Pizza. The restaurant became her inspiration for the story of three young girls who realize their dream while working as waitresses there. A combination of various palpable reasons makes ‘Mystic Pizza’ a favorite among movie-lovers and now, it has a dedicated fan-base. The feel-good slice-of-life movie is mostly based in and around Mystic, a village and census-designated place in Connecticut.

The film follows the story of three Portuguese-American girls who have just graduated high school. Roberts and Gish play the two Araújo sisters, Daisy and Katherine respectively, and Taylor embodies the sisters’ best friend, Jojo Barbosa. The three friends live close to each other and share a precious bond which only strengthens throughout the course of the film.

The Araújo sisters are starkly different from each other, both in personality and aspirations. Daisy, the free-spirited older sister, deliberately wants to leave Mystic but also wants to have fun while she is stuck there. Meanwhile, Kat is an aspiring astronomer who has obtained a partial scholarship to Yale University and is working part-time at the pizzeria and as a babysitter to raise the rest of the money. The film opens with Jojo’s wedding, where she faints after getting cold feet.

In the film, we see the plotline dicussing some real issues. For instance, when Daisy is invited to dinner at her boyfriend Charles’ residence, she is subjected to insensitive remarks from Charles’ family about her ethnicity. Charles gravely reprimands his family for the comments. Daisy breaks up with Charles, accusing him of having overreacted to harmless remarks. The scene evidently mirrors the very real issues of racism that persist around the world and how they are often dismissed as jokes or quips.

Plus, the Portuguese have a long-standing history with America. Some of the earliest European explorers to reach the shores of America had been of Portuguese descent. Once a very small immigrant population in the Colonial period, many Portuguese people have now made America their home. While America has an unfortunate tryst with racism against the African American community, it is poignant to note that other ethnicities have also been dealt the same hand.

This reflects the extreme relevancy of the issue which is addressed through a lucid and clever delivery of dialogues in ‘Mystic Pizza’. Another very relevant issue the film deals with is pre-marital sex and the stigma associated with it. Jojo wants to indulge in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, Bill, who seems opposed to the idea of pre-marital sex.

Bill eventually breaks up with Jojo, believing that she is not in love with him and is only with him for physical intimacy. ‘Mystic Pizza’ is full of ups-and-downs, much like real life. The film manages to engage the audience with a story which hits very close to home, especially for young adult viewers. Hence, even if the film is not based on a true story, it does not fail to create an instant connection with the audience, making it extremely relatable.

Read More: Where Was Mystic Pizza Filmed?

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