|Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
1997 - R - 92 Mins.
|Director: David Mirkin
|Producer: Laurence Mark
|Written By: Robin Schiff
|Starring: Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming and Julia Campbell
|Review by: Bill King
I don't how what it is, but there is a strange quality about "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" that attracts me to it at least once a month. I have seen this film more times than my favorite film, "True Romance." In fact, I've seen it more times than any other movie. I can't count how many, but the number is way up there, yet I don't rank it in my Top 10, and I doubt it would make my Top 25 (a list I've never composed, though I'm sure this movie wouldn't fall on it). It has an endless appeal brought upon it by its two lead performances. The screenplay, by Robin Schiff, is smart and sassy. It's loaded with clever dialogue and hilarious sexual innuendo.
Get those Tony Awards ready.
The movie breezes by and tells a simple story, yet the script is populated with eccentric characters and strange developments; enough, in fact, to elevate it above many other comedies. It isn't a laugh-out-loud movie, but it always brings a smile to my face. I think the movie works so well because of its rapid-fire delivery of amusing predicaments. Nearly every time we arrive at a new scene, there's a humorous situation brewing. Most importantly, the heroes are so likable that any attempt to find flaws in their characters is a futile endeavor.
Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) are ten years removed from high school and living a comfortable life in Los Angeles, which seems like thousands of miles from their hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Everything from their speech, fashion sense and attitude looks like something out of Cosmo or Vogue magazines. Fashion is what they live for; their closets are lined with clothes that Michele designed herself. They like to have fun, go to dance clubs and watch "Pretty Woman" over and over again just to make fun of it.
An old classmate, Heather Mooney (Janeane Garofalo), visits Romy at her workplace and informs her of the 10th year class reunion. Eager to impress their former classmates, Romy and Michele begin a plan to make a splash at the occasion. Dieting and finding a new car are easy, but they realize that they haven't done anything that will show off their lives in L.A. Romy works at an auto garage and Michele is jobless. Finally, they decide to invent the last ten years by pretending to be sophisticated business women. With this fib comes the necessity to back it up, resulting in more stories about their past. As it turns out, coming up with a credible career isn't that easy, since their infatuation with clothes and clubbing hasn't exposed them to what successful career women do. Their solution? They'll claim they invented Post-its.
Numerous set-pieces dominate the film. A funny flashback to their high school days shows Romy and Michele as inseparable pals at the mercy of school hotshot Christy Masters (Julia Campbell) and the "A" group, which is a bunch of snobby girls. Romy was in love with Christy's boyfriend Billy Christiansen (Vincent Ventresca), and a separate flashback reveals how he broke her heart at the prom. There is also a dream sequence showing the girls many years later, and no longer friends. Romy and Michele have an argument on their way to Tucson, and Michele imagines what a drag the future would be without Romy.
The school nerd was Sandy Frink (Alan Cumming). He had a crush on Michele, but she didn't return those feelings. What Sandy didn't know was that Heather Mooney liked him. All these people collide at the reunion, and what follows is the movie's best scene. Sandy, Romy and Michele take the stage in a memorable dance sequence highlighted by its unorthodox moves and played to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." There is also a sweet revenge against Christy Masters and Billy Christiansen which gives Romy and Michele ultimate satisfaction.
"Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" isn't a distinguished film, yet it has a unique appeal. The '80s soundtrack is perfectly chosen and effectively nostalgic. I give it five stars because it is nearly flawless in its execution and is enormously entertaining. Director David Mirkin had a goal with this film, and he accomplished it with near perfection - perfection for this kind of movie anyway. That goal was to get two charming performances from Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow and produce a story that can be watched whenever anyone is feeling down. The movie may very well fade away as the new classics begin to take center stage, but this movie will always provide a great distraction for anyone looking for something more clever than its reputation would suggest. While it did get fair reviews, it is much better than all that.