Touchstone Pictures // 1997 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dean Roddey (Retired) // February 8th, 2000
Ditzy darlings do their high school reunion.
So far, I've studiously avoided going to any high school reunions. And its not just because I've grown up to be a loser or anything, since I'm sure that they've all grown up to be even worse losers than me. I don't know, there's just something vaguely horrifying about the whole concept. Of course, if I were a King of Commerce and disgustingly wealthy, I'd not hesitate one moment to fly down in my Lear jet and spread condescension upon all those people who were a part of my hormonal nightmare called high school.
Romy White and Michele Weinberger face the same problem when they discover that it's been ten years, and that fateful day has arrived. Unfortunately, the intervening decade hasn't been terribly productive for them. They are both still single, still share an apartment, Michele is unemployed, and Romy is a cashier at the local Jaguar dealership. They did get out of Arizona, and moved to LA. But, other than a change of venue, they seem to have reached a (rather low) plateau in their careers.
Romy, played by Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Barcelona, Beautiful Girls) and Michele, played by Lisa Kudrow (Analyze This, The Opposite of Sex, Clockwatchers), are two of the most ditzy chicks who have ever lived. They've been best buds forever, had their picture taken together in the Yearbook, design and wear their own extraordinarily tacky clothes, and moved out to LA after graduation to change their lives. The only problem was that they forgot to actually change them.
But, given that they don't have a lot of mental horsepower to waste on such concerns, things are going well enough, at least until Heather Mooney, played by Janeane Garafalo (The Cable Guy, Reality Bites, Permanent Midnight) shows up at the Jaguar dealership to pick up her car. Heather was in the same class with Romy and Michele, and informs Romy that the reunion is coming up. It turns out that Heather invented the fast burning paper on a popular new cigarette, they burn faster so that harried business women can get "twice the taste in half the time."
Heather's news kicks the girls out of their coma, and they realize that they can't go back to their reunion without anything to show for the decade passed. So they resolve to get into shape, for Romy to get them some boyfriends, and Michele to get a job. Unfortunately, they fail miserably at all of these things. So, as a backup plan, they get some business suites, weasel a Jag from the dealership, and come up with the story that they invented Post-Its and are now fabulously rich.
As they are preparing for the big day, leafing through the Yearbook and reminiscing about the old days and how painful they were, we get some flashbacks to their time in school. We meet Sandy Frink, played by Alan Cumming (Eyes Wide Shut, Emma, GoldenEye), the class nerd who had a huge crush on Michele and who carried around a big notebook to hide his perpetual erection. And we meet Billy Christiansen, played by Vincent Ventresca (Can't Stop Dancing, This Space Between Us, The Surrogate), the senior class stud on whom Romy always had a crush. And we meet the inevitable "A Group" girls, Christie, Cheryl, Kelly, and Lisa, who terrorize the rest of the students and get their way all the time. Christie, as befits her position, is Billy's girlfriend.
Finally the inevitable cannot be put off any longer and the girls head off into the desert to meet their fates. And the rest is history, as they say. Despite the fact that I'm a snooty, pretentious lover of intellectual and brutally emotional films, I still love to see this sort of flick once in a while. It's full of incredibly silly one-liners, embarrassingly stupid situations, over the top stereotypes, and bad fashion that it just kills me. Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, both very intelligent women as I understand it, do some of the best "dumb blonde" roles I've ever seen. Mira Sorvino in particular just cracks me up every time she says pretty much anything at all. With lines like "I really hate throwing up in public," "Wow! Me too," you can't go wrong!
The non-anamorphic 1.85:1 video is reasonably good. Via the Faroudja's pseudo-anamorphic upconversion, it looked soft in places but since your eyes will be watering a lot its probably not a big deal. Because the girls are what might be generously termed fashion trailblazers, there are colors galore, so the color decoder should get a good workout. In some places the image was considerably less soft, so I'm not sure if its because of the original footage or the transfer or a little of both.
The sound track is of that kind of horrendous '80s pop/rock music that few people will admit to liking, but you still end up singing along somewhat guiltily. I've been whistling that stupid Cindy Lauper song, "Time After Time," for two days now and wish it would go away. It starts off with No Doubt's "I'm Just a Girl," but the rest is mostly '80s schlock rock. I was impressed though by how tight the bass was on some of the songs. There was no need for human bassists in much of the '80s (luckily since they were probably doing coke in the bathroom anyway) so it's all synth stuff, which sounded really punchy on the theater system.
Given the incredible colorfest that this film is, I was very disappointed that it wasn't anamorphic. I know its not exactly Dr. Zhivago or anything, but it could have been a real eye popper if they'd given it more attention, on the order of Austin Powers in my opinion. The transfer didn't completely suck, but it could have been much better.
The extras were also pretty lacking. There is just a very short featurette, which is really more of a glorified trailer than anything else. I bet there were some great bloopers and blunders and interesting going's on behind the scenes on this film that I would have liked to see.
Some folks will consider the ending a little bit too happy and somewhat clichéd, but in this type of film its not like it wasn't expected, so just go with it.
If you like classic silliness in the grand tradition of Raising Arizona or Dumb and Dumber, then this one is for you. With great lines like "I'm so lucky I got mono, that was like the best diet ever," you can't go wrong. Sorvino and Kudrow give great comedic performances, and completely subsume their egos to the greater good of creating epic silliness and stupidity. And, though it's pretty light, it does have some heart and there's a message somewhere in there amongst the egregious accessorization.
The storyline is certainly something that everyone can empathize with. All of us tend to have this lurking desire to be the fruit that fell the farthest from the tree and from whom was borne the greatest fruit. We all want to prove to the people we knew in our formative years that were really were somebody. Hopefully most of us could come up with a better lie than having invented Post-Its, but you might want to try it if are stuck for other solutions.
Acquitted because they're just girls.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Romy and Michele Page