Mystic Pizza (1988)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (1:40)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 99:49
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Donald Petrie
Studio
Distributor
Samuel Goldwyn
MGM
Starring Annabeth Gish
Julia Roberts
Lili Taylor
Vincent D'Onofrio
William R. Moses
Adam Storke
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music David McHugh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Mystic is a small town in Connecticut (yes, it actually exists) and the home of a slightly atypical pizza restaurant - it serves one mean special pizza. This is the story of three local inhabitants: Daisy Arujo (Julia Roberts), her sister Kat (Annabeth Gish) and their best mate Josephina "Jojo" Bardoza (Lili Taylor). They all work together at the pizza restaurant.

    The film starts at the wedding of Jojo to local fisherman Bill (Vincent D'Onofrio) where things don't quite go to plan. The funny thing is that Jojo is not entirely sure of what she wants from a relationship and love, not exactly the finest revelation to have on your wedding day when you are standing at the altar. Whilst she certainly loves Bill, the whole commitment thing seems to be a stumbling block, and one that even drives Bill to distraction. Just how is their relationship going to be resolved?

    Kat is on her way to Yale University and needs all the money she can raise. She is therefore the intelligent, sensible one of the group. Amongst the jobs she does is a bit of baby sitting, and appears to have gained new employment with a new arrival in town - architect Tim (William R. Moses) - looking after his daughter Phoebe. Of course, after all those hours working in the pizza restaurant, gazing at the stars in the planetarium and whatever else, her hormones get a little heated in the presence of Tim, staggeringly a Yale alumnus... Of course, the fact that he is married presents little impediment - at least until wifey turns up.

    Then there is Daisy. Now with a name like Daisy you can just about guess where she fits in this triumvirate. She is the sexy, good looking one with a body built for sin - so obviously that is what she does. She is the one that is just about destined to never go anywhere thanks to the lack of ambition and talent. Still, when you look like Daisy that is really not a great problem - especially when a local lad living off his father's money takes notice. Of course, what sexy chick is going to turn aside the attentions of the local hunk when he dangles Porsches and BMWs in front of them? And so it is that Charles (Adam Storke), local lad not made good but living the high life anyway, has Daisy in his sights and for once Daisy is trying to work out whether this guy is good enough for her.

    If this all sounds a little clichéd, there is good reason why. It is. There is nothing here that we have not seen before. The story really is that banal, and is only partially lifted by the presence of a decent leading cast. They give their all for the cause and when it first came out, the film probably worked a lot better. The passage of time, and the lofty heights attained by Julia Roberts, have tended to detract somewhat from the freshness of the ingredients. The right mix is still there but it's getting just a little stale after all those reheats in the microwave. Perhaps a firmer hand in the directorial area might have helped but overall the screenplay lets this down despite all the opportunities presented.

    It is still a reasonably enjoyable film, but with a tendency to drag a little at times. Still, if you are a fan of any of the leads, or of the film itself, it is still worth checking out. The only problem is that the film has not been afforded an especially good video transfer...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is in accordance with the theatrical ratio of the film.

    To be blunt, this is really not a pretty sight at all. Now maybe you will be fortunate to miss the problems here, but if you don't... well, lets just say that once seen, you will pick up every flaw in the compression and it gets rather annoying. Most of the problem arises from what we believe is an issue with noise suppression used in the compression of the film, although we are by no means positive of the origin of the problem. Its manifestation is rather obvious though - when watching the film at times it almost appears that there are two independent layers to the film and they are not working in unison. The most telling example of this is seen between 45:00 and 46:00, in the scene between Daisy and Charles in the bedroom. One segment of this period shows the shadows on Daisy's face moving quite independently of the movement of the face itself (around 45:02 for a few seconds). So noticeable in fact that it completely detracts from the film in every way. This is followed by a segment where there are some quite unnatural looking shadows across Charles face. This problem crops up quite frequently during the film and other noted instances can be seen around 72:28 and 76:56.

    At other times there is a very noticeable echoing effect to movement. This is most blatantly obvious during the scene in the bar when Daisy and Charles are playing pool. As the balls roll towards and into pockets, you get to see a lovely echo effect of up to ten distinctive balls rolling in behind the actual ball itself (most obvious at 18:48). It also appears elsewhere, like in the movement of the nose at 43:08, whilst early on in the film (at 1:45) there is almost a precognition of what is to come rather than an echo effect.

    The cumulative effect of these problems is to d*** the transfer, for it really is one of the most distracting artefacts I have ever encountered on a DVD.

    Whilst the film certainly is not a recent one, it also is not that old and I have seen older that look way better than this effort. Two things really are obvious: this seems to be an inherently grainy transfer that really is a hard watch when the transfer has the softness that it has here and the rather poor shadow detail. The softish grainy look does at times get tiring to watch and certainly robs the transfer of some detail and definition. When the lack of shadow detail comes into play, the result is something that really is a dark mess that lacks any sort of decent detail, such as at 36:35 and 41:05. Clarity as you might guess leaves a little to be desired at times. Low level noise does not appear to be a problem, but the grainy look could be hiding any mild problems. The transfer is a little dark at times.

    The colours are about the best thing in the transfer: generally very well saturated and reasonably vibrant, the transfer is quite natural looking. Whilst there is no issue with oversaturation here, there is at least one instance of colour bleed to be noted at 61:24. It is in the red shirt sleeve and is a tad obvious (or maybe it was just because by the time I had watched an hour of this transfer I was able to spot just about anything that even remotely looked out of place). Blacks are well handled although this is perhaps one time where it might have been nice if they weren't so well handled. Skin tones are very natural.

    Aside from the artefacting noted above, there does not appear to be any other other issues in the transfer. Regrettably the transfer issues are compounded by some film-to-video artefacting in the form of aliasing. Not much but when it does crop up it does tend to be noticed: at the top of the truck at 54:12, on the shirt at 61:07 and 66:24 on the telephone. There is an even bigger problem with film artefacts, some of which are rather large and difficult to ignore. Film dirt also seems to be a problem.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD, with the layer change coming at 56:29. I was a little surprised to note that this was a dual layered disc, given that the transfer quality is not the best. With the space available on the disc, you would have thought that the transfer would have been a lot better. The layer change by the way was not noted during playback of the film, so it is obviously not disruptive to the film.

    There are eleven subtitle options on the DVD, and the English efforts are pretty good with nothing major missing in the dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five of the obligatory European language soundtracks on the disc, well and truly indicating the origins of this disc. The options are English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. The format is universally Dolby Digital 2.0, but there are variations: the packaging claims that the English and Italian soundtracks are surround encoded whilst the other three are claimed to be mono. Whilst I cannot attest to the other four languages, the English soundtrack is certainly surround encoded as evidenced by some of the bass that comes into play here and there.

    The dialogue comes up well in the soundtrack and is generally quite easy to understand. There did not seem to be any significant issues with audio sync, although just once or twice the dialogue was obviously ADR work and may have been just a little off.

    The original score comes from David McHugh and a fairly average effort it is. It thankfully does not draw attention to itself but does not really help a film more remembered for the songs included rather than any musical support from the score.

    There really is not a fat lot to say about the audio transfer overall. Thankfully free of any obvious defects, in the main it is not so thankfully free of any great dynamic. Everything just seems to blend real nice and just flows. Whilst there is certainly some surround encoding present, it sure is not too obvious and only really comes into play a few times. For most of the film you would not notice its absence. In many ways it is very much like the film itself - quite palatable but hardly the most distinctive effort you will ever hear.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Since we are talking about a company renowned for the paucity of extras on their back catalogue titles in just about all markets, you really were not expecting much here were you?

Menu

    Functional enough.

Theatrical Trailer (1:40)

    A fairly typical example of the "art" and thus nothing to really write home about. It is a bit dark in comparison to the film, has a fair few film artefacts floating around and is somewhat soft in the audio department. Otherwise, reasonable enough. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Let me see: Region 1 has a theatrical trailer and nothing much else whilst Region 2 has a theatrical trailer and not much else. Looks like this one is pretty even all round, other than language and subtitle option differences. There seems to be some disagreement as to the quality of the Region 1 transfer but on the whole it sounds little better than the Region 4. Since the Region 2 release is the same as the Region 4 you will not find much relief there either. Maybe Region 3 offers something better (not that I have found a Region 3 release yet)?

Summary

    Mystic Pizza is a decent enough film that nowadays, with its 1980's freshness now but a fond memory, seriously plays on the fact that it was an early starring role for Julia Roberts. Still, it is more palatable than some of her later stuff, when the familiarity of that horse-sized smile started to get a little too grating. It is not the sort of film to stuff yourself stupid on every week but the occasional slice goes down rather nicely. Whilst the film might be quite palatable, the video transfer is not. I am still wondering whether it should be panned as terrible or mildly criticised for being less than what was expected, even for a back catalogue title. In the final analysis, it really is very close to terrible and is way worse than we should expect in this day and age. I certainly found it very difficult to watch the film at times and even at the reduced price I got this for on sale, it is seriously underwhelming. This really is strictly for fans of the stars only - everyone else would be well advised to preview before purchasing.

    This DVD is rated M and once again I am for the life of me battling to understand why. Sure there is a bit of language floating around but I have heard way worse in Parliament during a long sitting. The rating is also for adult themes, which I am presuming is the potential adulterous relationship between Kat and Tim. If that is the adult theme, then frankly the dodos on the Film Classification Review Board need to be replaced with some people less close to senility. I am quite sure that the average kid nowadays would hardly find these adult themes anything unusual or disturbing. Frankly, the film is no more than a PG rating and just serves to illustrate how out of touch the rating process is nowadays.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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