A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 111 – Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion – June 19th, 2010

I mentioned yesterday that we had a special event this weekend and this is it. It is Andy’s high school reunion this weekend. The thing is, we’re not really reunion people, so we’re not at it. Instead we’re watching reunion movies tonight and tomorrow. Personally, I think this is a fantastic option. Tonight’s is far more ridiculous than tomorrow’s. It’s more ridiculous than many movies, really. It’s a caricature of high school and reunions that makes everything at the same time cartoonishly horrible and silly, then puts it in a somewhat idealized perspective.

“I bet in high school everybody made somebody’s life hell.” So says one of the titular leads of the movie, Michele, at the also titular high school reunion. Given how little Romy and Michele tend to think of anything outside their own little bubble, that’s a huge realization. It’s not a bad one to come to anyhow, but it’s a eureka moment for the two ladies at the center of the movie.

Romy and Michele (played to perfection by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, respectively), two cute-but-clueless gals who’ve been best friends forever get invited to their ten year high school reunion. Romy, realizing that saying they’re two single women living together, only one of whom is employed and that’s as a cashier at a car dealership, decides they need to have better, more impressive lives. When efforts at actually doing that fail miserably they decide to lie. Why not, right? Who’d know? Their high school is back in Tucson and they’ve been in LA and they could claim to be successful business women and it would totally work. Obviously it doesn’t but that’s kind of to be expected, right? And in the end it doesn’t matter. They’re not impressive to the people they wanted to impress, but they’re still themselves and that’s important.

The movie takes them from LA, through their quest for boyfriends and better jobs (and their abandonment of said quest), and then on to Tucson and to the reunion. With lots of bizarre little stops and flashbacks and dream sequences along the way. Which is what makes it more than just the two of them going to their reunion. Through flashbacks to high school we get to see how oblivious to how unpopular they are because they have each other, fixating on the “A Crew” of cheerleaders and football players while also being oblivious to the attention from members of the “C Crew” of geeks and brains (Janeane Garofalo as the acerbic Heather, Camryn Manheim as the eager Toby and Alan Cumming as the geeky Sandy). The major difference between them and the popular girls is that while the popular girls go out of their ways to be nasty to the peons beneath them, Romy and Michele are just clueless. For such a silly movie, it’s got a point. Teenagers are self-absorbed at the best of times. I know I was. It’s part of that whole “figuring out who you are” thing that one is supposed to do in one’s teen years. But in with all that comes the danger of losing track of the people around you.

Plenty of the movie takes place far before they even get to the reunion. There’s the flashbacks to high school, full of ‘80s fashion and high school interactions between Romy and Michele and the cheerleaders and the geeks. There’s the bits where they’re working out, or trying to date or interview for jobs. And there’s a lot that shows that they’re just best friends. There for each other even when they drive each other up the wall. And as the beginning takes us back and forth from the present to the past over and over, through the yearbook they’re looking at, we realize that for Romy and Michele, high school never ended. They graduated and went to LA like they said they would, but they didn’t change much. And really, do they need to?

It’s a tricky question for a movie that seems so superficial at first. With the valley girl affectations and the upbeat cluelessness of Romy and Michele one might think it’s all just fun. And don’t get me wrong. It is fun. But it’s carefully hidden cleverness in the quips and snark and fashion and flashbacks and impromptu contemporary three-person dance routine. After all, Romy and Michele, for all that their lives aren’t as glamorous and fabulous as they end up pretending, are enjoying themselves. They make themselves more miserable trying to pretend than they were to begin with. Romy’s the one who decides they need to change and all because she’s clinging to this idea that they need to impress people. That the mean girls in high school still mean something. But then, she does need to change. She needs to get over that whole high school thing.

They both change at the end, with Michele’s line above. They change enough to realize that they can be themselves still without holding on to all the baggage high school sends you off with. They confront the mean girls, who’re also clinging to a lot of high school crap (except one, who’s let go and moved on), share a dance with Sandy (the aforementioned contemporary, set to Time After Time, by Cyndi Lauper, and man, I’d love to see that recreated on So You Think You Can Dance), talk things out with Heather and Toby, and end up with a happily ever after that suits them perfectly, leaving them perkily folding scarves and still the best of friends.

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June 19, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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