'Mystic Pizza' still tasty on 25th anniversary

"Mystic Pizza" turns 25 years old Monday, and like with any pizza, it was the ingredients that made the 1988 romantic comedy such a success. Here are six reasons why we couldn't resist it then or now.

IMAGE: Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor Samuel Goldwyn Films
Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor co-starred as waitresses as "Mystic Pizza" in 1988.

Julia Roberts blooms as Daisy
Julia Roberts, who was a week away from turning 21 when the film came out, was almost unheard of before playing Daisy, the sexy waitress who can't wait to get out of small-town Mystic, Conn. But the stardom she carried was obvious. Wrote Roger Ebert, "I have a feeling that 'Mystic Pizza' may someday become known for the movie stars it showcased back before they became stars." As usual, he was right.

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    Actress Julia Roberts arrives with her n

    Julia Roberts: Then and now

    Her acting skills (and mega-watt smile) won her an Oscar, but off-screen this 'Pretty Woman' was unlucky in love. Now the superstar is a happily married mom of three.

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    The 'in' crowd -

    Actress Julia Roberts is known for iconic films like "Pretty Woman" and "Steel Magnolias" as well as for her unforgettable smile -- and the Oscar-winning actress was named People magazine's Most Beautiful Person in 2010. Here, she's shown joining fellow A-listers at the 86th Annual Academy Awards on March 2, 2014 in a selfie posed by host Ellen DeGeneres (lower center) that set a record for re-tweets once it was posted on Twitter. (Also pictured, clockwise from left to right: Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, Peter Nyong'o Jr. and Bradley Cooper.)
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    Back in black -

    Nominated for a supporting role in "August: Osage County," Roberts stuns at the March 2014 Oscars in Los Angeles while wearing a black lacy peplum gown by Givenchy and jewelry by Bulgari. The actress has one Oscar and three nominations.
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    She's got legs -

    Roberts makes a surprise appearance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, 2014 in Los Angeles as she welcomes honorees Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to the stage for a tribute to the Beatles.
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    Mommy issues -

    Roberts received her latest Oscar nomination for her role as a bitter, brittle daughter of Meryl Streep's domineering, ailing mother in "August: Osage County."
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    Screen titans -

    Meryl Streep and Roberts, who co-starred in "August: Osage County" in 2013 were often seen on the red carpet awards circuit the following year; here, they're at the 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. on Jan. 16, 2014.
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    Power duo -

    Actors Dermot Mulroney and Roberts appeared side-by-side in both "August: Osage County" and "My Best Friend's Wedding," and she lent her voice to the Mulroney-directed "Love, Wedding, Marriage." Here, they attend the "August" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York on Dec. 12, 2013.
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    All rise -

    "August: Osage County" received a standing ovation at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere in Sept. 2013; perhaps Roberts' attendance had something to do with it.
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    Being bad -

    Though she usually plays wholesome heroines, Roberts dove happily into portraying Clementianna, the wicked Queen in 2012's "Mirror, Mirror," opposite Lily Collins as Snow White.
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    Face in the crowd -

    Roberts dazzles fans waiting on the street near the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York as she leaves a taping of "Late Show With David Letterman" on June 28, 2011.
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    Crowne-ing achievement -

    Roberts starred alongside Tom Hanks in 2011's romantic comedy "Larry Crowne" as a speech teacher who tries to help Hanks' Crowne, who is trying to better himself.
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    Chairwoman of the board -

    Roberts receives a Board of Governors award, presented by Tom Hanks, at the 25th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards in Hollywood, Calif. on Feb. 13, 2011.
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    All smiles -

    Roberts grins while being honored by Glamour Magazine at its 2010 Women of the Year gala in New York on Nov. 8, 2010.
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    Delicious pairing -

    Javier Bardem and Roberts pose during a photo shoot while promoting "Eat Pray Love," in front of Zurriola Beach at the 58th San Sebastian Film Festival on Sept. 20, 2010. Roberts received the Donostia Award for lifetime achievement in acting at the festival, which is held in Spain.
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    Mad about Julia -

    In 2010's "Eat Pray Love," Roberts played a woman touring the world in hopes of discovering herself, and who shared a romance with a man played by Javier Bardem. The movie was based on the best-selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert.
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    'Duplicity' -

    Julia Roberts received her seventh Gold Globe nomination for her role in the 2009 romantic thriller "Duplicity," co-starring Clive Owen, right.
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    'Valentine's Day' -

    The actress is pictured with her niece, actress Emma Roberts, right, and Shirley MacLaine, left, at the "Valentine's Day" Los Angeles premiere. The 2010 romantic comedy reunited Roberts with her "Pretty Woman" director, Garry Marshall.
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    Mile-high meeting -

    Roberts plays an Army captain who befirends Bradley Cooper's character on a flight in the 2010 ensemble comedy "Valentine's Day."

    New York magazine reported that the actress made roughly $500,000 per minute on screen for her brief appearance in the star-studded film.
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    Helping Haiti -

    The actress joined fundraising efforts to help Haiti after the devastating January 2010 earthquake hit the island nation. Here she appears at the "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" telethon on Jan. 22, 2010 in Los Angeles.
    Mark Davis / Hope for Haiti Now via AP
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    For the children -

    Julia Roberts participated in the reading of "The World Of Nick Adams" to honor Paul Newman held at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, Calif., in 2008. The performance was a benefit for Paul Newman's recreational camp and family health care center for children suffering from life-threatening diseases.
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    'Charlie Wilson's War' -

    Aaron Sorkin's Golden Globe-nominated film "Charlie Wilson's War" was based on a real congressman who worked to bring down the Soviet empire in the Cold War era.

    Roberts called the film "witty" and "intelligent," adding that her costars Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman were "just amazing."
    Francois Duhamel / Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
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    All in the family -

    Lasting love finally found Roberts when she married Daniel Moder on July 4, 2002 at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico. The couples' 2-year-old fraternal twins, Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia Moder, were born on November 28, 2004. Their third child, Henry Daniel Moder, arrived on June 18, 2007.

    As the family prepares for the holidays, Roberts says of her kids, "They're just starting to figure out Christmas. It's a good food holiday in our house." And, she adds, "I haven't gotten anything yet for my husband!"
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    Red carpet beauty -

    Roberts looks radiant in Giorgio Armani at the 2004 Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California.

    The actress has yet another awards ceremony to look forward to: Her new film, "Charlie Wilson's War," was recently nominated for five Golden Globes, including a nod to Roberts for Best Supporting Actress. "Usually the triumph of my day is everybody making it to the potty," Roberts told Lauer. "So, yes I think it's thrilling."
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    'Closer' -

    Roberts starred with Jude Law in 2004's "Closer," a drama about love and deception. Costars included Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. 2004 was a big year for the actress: She released two blockbuster films ("Closer" and "Ocean's 12"), and she also became a mother.
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    Roberts gives back -

    Roberts comforts 15-year-old Lindsey Ross who has RETT syndrome, as her father Nick looks on during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in 2002 in Washington, DC. Roberts testified before Congress to request $15.5 million in funding research on RETT Syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder that affects the motor skills of young girls.
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    'The Mexican' -

    Roberts appeared with Brad Pitt in the 2001 film "The Mexican." Though it was not one of her best-received movies, it was on this set where she met her current husband, cameraman Daniel Moder.

    Like Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Roberts and Moder have also found the time to give back. In her Dec. 14 TODAY appearance, Roberts showed Lauer the bracelet she was wearing: "This is the red campaign bracelet that Giorgio Armani has produced that my husband and I designed," the actress explained. "It's sold at Emporio Armani and it's to raise money for AIDS in Africa."
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    'Ocean's 11' -

    In 2001, Roberts held her own amongst the high-profile, male-dominated cast of "Oceans 11." She later starred with George Clooney again in sequels "Oceans's 12" and "Ocean's 13."
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    'Erin Brockovich' -

    Roberts starred in 2000's "Erin Brockovich," a film based on a true story. Her portrayal of the title character -- a single mom and legal assistant who brings down an unscrupulous energy company -- finally won her a Best Actress Oscar.
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    'Runaway Bride' -

    Roberts and Gere reunite in the 1999 romantic comedy "Runaway Bride." Many people wanted this film to be something like a sequel to "Pretty Woman," but it ultimately did not live up to expectations.
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    'Notting Hill' -

    Art imitates life in the 1999 film "Notting Hill," in which Roberts plays the world's most beautiful woman and a beloved actress. In the film. Roberts' character falls for a bookstore owner (played by Hugh Grant).
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    'My Best Friend's Wedding' -

    Always the sweet and approachable "best friend," Roberts starred in 1997's "My Best Friend's Wedding," with Dermot Mulroney. The comedy was a huge box office success.
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    Lyle lucks out -

    Roberts married country singer Lyle Lovett in June 1993, three weeks after they met. They announced their separation less than two years later, and subsequently divorced.
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    'The Pelican Brief' -

    In 1993, Roberts starred alongside Denzel Washington in "The Pelican Brief," which was based on a John Grisham novel of the same name.
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    One hot couple -

    Roberts dated actor Benjamin Bratt for four years, but the couple split in 2001, much to the surprise of their fans and friends. Here, the couple walks the red carpet at the 2001 Academy Awards. Dressed to impress, Roberts wears a vintage Valentino dress from 1982 with Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry, and Bratt is in Armani.
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    'Pretty Woman' -

    A favorite among women, 1990's "Pretty Woman" benefited from the great chemistry between Roberts and Richard Gere. She received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for the film.
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    'Flatliners' -

    Roberts acted alongside Kiefer Sutherland in the 1990 drama "Flatliners." The pair met on the set and became romantically involved, but later broke off their engagement. Roberts has had widely reported romantic relationships with other famous men, including Liam Neeson, Dylan McDermott, Kiefer Sutherland, Lyle Lovett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Matthew Perry and Benjamin Bratt.
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    'Steel Magnolias' -

    Roberts' moving performance in 1989's "Steel Magnolias" as a young bride with diabetes earned the actress her first Oscar nomination (as Best Supporting Actress). Roberts' castmates on the film included Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Dylan McDermott, who Roberts was dating off-screen.
    TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
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    'Mystic Pizza' -

    One of the most famous and highest-paid actresses in the world, Julia Roberts captured hearts in the early '90s after starring in "Pretty Woman." Among other achievements, the 40-year old has a Best Actress Oscar to her name, plus three Golden Globes. In a Dec. 13 interview with TODAY's Matt Lauer, the actress was humble about her achievements: "I didn't realize I had done that much. That's great!" Here's a walk through her life and career.

    1988's "Mystic Pizza," in which a young Roberts starred alongside Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor, was Roberts' first film.
    Samuel Goldwyn via Everett Collection

But don't forget about Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor
Roberts was the developing star, but the movie could've flopped if Lili Taylor (JoJo, the reluctant bride) and Annabeth Gish (Kat, who falls for a married preppie) hadn't developed their characters so well. Their relationships felt real, and just as rocky as real romances do.

IMAGE: Mystic Pizza Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Roberts and Gish play sisters who are on very different life paths.

Matt Damon and the 'green stuff'
The film also marked the movie debut of 18-year-old Matt Damon, who has one line in a dinner scene eating lobster -- "Hey, Mom, do you want my green stuff?" Keep eating that green stuff, kid. You'll grow up big and strong and win an Oscar. (Weird trivia: IMDb claims Damon's pal Ben Affleck also tried out for the part.)

The charming setting
Only a tiny bit of the movie was filmed in Mystic, Conn., but at least the filmmakers shot in New England. Look, Hollywood, we know you love Los Angeles and New York, but the rest of us in the rest of the country sometimes get sick of the same skyscraper-or-palm-tree scenery.

That great pizza scene
We love Conchata Ferrell as pizza-shop owner Leona -- Ferrell went on to shine as housekeeper Berta on "Two and a Half Men." When a long-feared restaurant critic finally shows up to review her pizza, the staff all knows he's there (anonymity is pretty tough in Mystic, we guess). But she doesn't make him something special, she has enough faith in her regular pizzas to just gesture to a bunch of them and tell her waitresses to pick one.

IMAGE: Mystic Pizza Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
"Mystic Pizza" started Julia Roberts on a long path to stardom. Her hairdos got better, too.

It makes us hungry
And can you blame Leona? That pizza looks really, really good. While Mystic Pizza is still open in Connecticut, they tell TODAY they're not offering any menu or other specials to tie-in with the movie's anniversary. Too bad, but we're guessing whenever this movie reruns on cable, pizza delivery calls to restaurants in any U.S. city go through the roof. In fact, we're going to order some right now.

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