Giving “Mystic Pizza” a Pizza My Mind

I grew up in the shadow of the big-mouthed, loud-laughing monolith that is Julia Roberts. By which I mean her cinematic debut, Mystic Pizza, was filmed in my town and I have a lot of feelings about it.

My earliest feeling related to Mystic Pizza is all-encompassing rage.

Let me set the scene for you: I’m a child, I like ice cream — maybe a little too much — and I am holding said ice cream at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream, appropriately situated next to the titular Mystic Drawbridge. A lurid green stream of mint chocolate chip drips steadily onto a star bearing Julia Robert’s name. Anger fills my soul. I stomp on the name “Julia” with my light-up sneaker, a paltry stab at rebellion.

So why was I so pissed at Julia Roberts? Mostly because she had stolen my sister Lara’s role in Mystic Pizza. Or so I thought. You see, Lara, along with much of the town, had auditioned for the movie and had snagged a callback for the little girl whom Lili Taylor babysits. My mom told me, when I was almost old enough to understand, that Lara had nearly got the part, but they decided to go with a little red-headed girl instead of my sister, who looks kind of Portuguese. In the film, Portuguese people were explicably cast as Mystic’s poor, lower class, one of its several inaccuracies.

Being a dumbass child who had no concept of age, I saw Roberts’ red hair and just assumed she was the one who had nabbed Lara’s part, instead of actual child Porscha Radcliffe. All I can find about Porscha online is that she married someone whose last name is “Rooney” and seems pretty happy, according to the publication Tulsa World. Lara named someone whose last name is “Riggs” and also seems pretty happy, according to my life. So I guess I’m over it now. Sorry, Julia. No hard feelings, Porscha?

My second feeling about Mystic Pizza is, I guess, meh? In that I have never eaten pizza at Mystic Pizza — the actual eatery. I guess it’s kind of like how so many New Yorkers have never been up the Empire State Building or seen the Statue of Liberty or masturbated on the subway. Instead, we went to some local spot called Pizzaworks where I would regularly eat half a pizza on my own because I was a chubby child who liked to wear oversized T-shirts and plastic garden clogs. Or my mom would make “healthy” pizza and I would eat, like, half a pizza because who really cares if a kid is chubby unless they want to star in Mystic Pizza or something.

My third feeling about Mystic Pizza is kind of a horrified hilarity… because it’s really bad. Like, REALLY bad. Especially the line where someone says: “The only reason to get married is to leave Mystic” as she hands someone else a tray of pizza to serve to people who are not me (because I’ve never eaten Mystic Pizza) nor my sister (because fucking Porscha stole her role). I could easily find out who uttered this line and why but I don’t want to because Mystic Pizza is a terrible movie and I don’t want to watch it again. Anyway! This line! Whoa boy! The funny thing about is it is that it’s the opposite of true! Everyone I know who stayed in Mystic is totally married and totally has twelve kids, all of whom could probably star in Mystic Pizza II because they are very fair white people and do not look Portuguese at all.

One recent weekend, I headed home for a wedding, deciding, finally, that I would hit Mystic Pizza and consume its titular dish so that I could write something funny here about marriage and Mystic and pizza. Then I was still kind of like, eh? Do I really want to brave the tourists and potential indigestion? Instead, my parents and I trekked to Stonington Borough to dine at a local brunch spot at which some Meryl Streep movie was recently filmed, but that’s a 3-minute story for another day.

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