A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

June, 19, 2010

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

I’m avoiding my twentieth high school reunion today. But I’m acknowledging its existence by viewing a couple high school reunion movies. First up is this movie, which I have never actually seen before. And now, having watched it, I kind of regret not seeing it earlier. It’s such a fun, strange, and amusing piece of light hearted silliness.

It’s the tale of two slightly under-achieving girls who thought they were living their dream sharing an apartment in L.A. and clubbing and generally being BFFs, but when faced with the prospect of their tenth high school reunion they begin to think that maybe they should have done more with their lives. Romy is working as a receptionist at a Jaguar dealership, and Michelle is currently unemployed. And although they’re pretty sure they’re not lesbians they’re still the cutest couple you have ever seen. But they have no boyfriends and their financial success is not really all that impressive. All they really have is their unshakable friendship with each other. So they come up with a scheme to masquerade as successful business women (and inventors.) It goes about as well as you might think that it would.

One thing that struck me from the very beginning of the movie is that it’s technically really astonishing. You know the impossible shot in The 39 Steps where the camera moves in in a huge long tracking shot across a valley onto a mountain road and into a car window? This movie opens with a similar shot, and it completely baffled me. There’s this huge wide shot of a beach and the camera pushes in, over the beach, and up to Romy and Michele’s window and right through the curtains into their living room. Sure there’s a cut as it goes through the curtains, but how on Earth did they get the camera right up to the window like that? I can only imagine that they had some kind of wire rig and dropped the camera down from a helicopter or something and did the whole shot as it ran down a cable that was anchored over the window. Okay – I’m getting needlessly technical, but my point is this: I’m watching a silly movie about air headed friends who are going to a high school reunion, and it has a directorial flare and style I’d expect from Hitchcock. Somebody gave David Mirkin a budget and let him cut loose, and it shows.

So right there you know there’s something different to this movie. The other astonishing thing is the performances of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino. Kudrow does this thing with Romy’s voice and inflection whenever her character is trying to impress somebody that’s so cool and kind of painful to watch at the same time. And Sorvino, with Michele’s blank stares and irrepressible perkiness, is just so much fun to root for. They have a lot riding on them in this movie, since probably half of the film is just the two of them talking to each other. Luckily their chemistry clicks perfectly and it’s just plain fun to hang out with the two of them. You can’t help wanting things to go well for them, it’s like watching kittens or puppies playing.

Added bonus: Alan Cumming as the painfully nerdy Sandy Frink and Janeane Garofalo as… the same great angry character she pretty much always plays. Both of them are a joy to watch as well.

I love the way the movie is crafted in terms of pacing and editing as well. It uses a great gimmick to introduce all the characters. The first act of the film is Romy and Michelle reminiscing about high school and leafing through their old year book, and these scenes introduce a series of flashbacks (that all start or end with the yearbook photos) that establish the extended cast. We meet Romy’s unrequited and hunky high school crush, the boy who has an unrequited crush on Michele, the foursome of girls who made life hell for both Romy and Michele, the dark and angry girl who wants no part of anybody… It’s your whole usual panoply of high school clicks and painful awkward teen-aged memories. (I also quite enjoy the way that the actors all portray their teen-aged characters. Most especially Alan Cumming, who transforms himself into an awkward and painfully shy teen-aged boy… it’s astonishing.)

The whole movie is about wish fulfilment and flights of fancy, really. It’s got a wonderfully bizarre fantasy feel to it. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t watched it, but I will say that it reaches new heights in surreal weirdness about three quarters of the way through, and then comes down to earth for a while, but then delights by spiraling off into strangeness once again as it reaches its delirious conclusion.

I loved watching this tonight, and I know I’m going to watch this movie again, and soon. Because it’s an awful lot more fun than actually attending a real reunion.

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

2 Comments »

  1. I expected to hate this movie when I watched it, but like you, I thought it was artfully crafted and surprisingly entertaining.

    Comment by Trisha | June 20, 2010 | Reply

    • Isn’t it weird? I think maybe they didn’t market the movie well, or were satisfied with only a small part of the demographic it could have reached if pitched differently.

      Most enjoyable, anyhow.

      Comment by tanatoes | June 20, 2010 | Reply


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