Touchstone Pictures // 1997 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // September 19th, 2012
The blond leading the blond...
Romy White (Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite) and Michelle Weinberg (Lisa Kudrow, Easy A) are bubbly, blond best buddies. After graduation from their addled Arizona high school, they decided to head to LA and make it B -- I -- G! in the world of fashion. Unfortunately, after ten years of trying, they are still in the same stunted place they were before. Michelle can't find work and Romy is working the front desk at a car dealership.
When one of their old buddies (Janeane Garofalo, The Truth About Cats and Dogs) shows up to buy an expensive new ride, she also drops a major bombshell -- it's time for the 10th anniversary class reunion. Devastated that they may have to face the "popular crowd" in the same state they were in a decade before, they fabricate a major league lie. Dressing up and borrowing a Ferrari, they plan on attending and playing moguls, claiming to be the inventors of Post-It Notes. Naturally, things don't go quite as expected.
Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion is one of the most unbalanced comedies ever. On the one hand, you have the excellent articulation of the entire "dumb blond" stereotype that gives both actresses ample opportunity to show off their comedic chops. Sorvino is especially good at this, since she won an Oscar for basically doing the same thing for Woody Allen. When they are together, trying on their tacky homemade couture and flitting around like moths mesmerized by too many LA flames, they are fab-u-lous, fascinating, and funny. They become truisms dipped in delightfully sweet spun sugar.
But then The Simpsons' scribe/showrunner David Mirkin (in the director's seat) along with writer Robin Schiff (inspired in part by her play The Ladies Room) have to come up with plot contrivances to get these gals moving. So they toss in Ms. Garafalo as the catalyst to their muddled misadventures, as well as a collection of clichés as classmates who may or may not have it better off a decade later. We are supposed to garner insight (and a few giggles) from watching our wannabes put on airs, but the real gem here is their inherent stupidity. A pure exposé on dippy dumb blondom would have been better.
Still, there are moments here that work. Alan Cumming's take on the oversexed nerd is a highlight, as is the gals mixed-up myth for what they have been up to since graduation. Some of the reunion material works, and for the most part, Sorvino and Kudrow keep us connected to the film's emotional center. Still, when you consider the pedigree and the performers involved, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion should be better. It should radiate real wit and sass, not simply rely on relics from a clear cultural wasteland from decades ago. Fine wine often betters its vintage with age. In the case of the lax '80s/'90s jibes presented here, only a couple are claret. The rest are a bungled Boudreaux.
As for the Blu-ray release of this title, the tech specs are fairly decent. The 1.78:1/1080p image has a nice amount of color, some decent details, and a good level of contrast. It doesn't always provide a pristine transfer, but for the most part, it's polished and professional. As for the sonic situation, you are in for a real treat -- that is, if you love Reagan-era pop. You get Wang-Chung, Culture Club, Cindy Lauper, and Thomas Dolby (among many, many others). The back speakers really spark during these musical moments, as well as providing decent immersion during the reunions scenes. In these situations, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 does a great job. Sadly, the only added content here is a brief, EPK-oriented production featurette. It has the cast and crew praising particulars in grand PR fashion. There is also a trailer.
Depending on how much you love the bubbly bimbette and her time in a post-'70s swoon, you'll either adore Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion or believe it is as tired and trite as its numerous aural cues. Sorvino and Kudrow make it worth a visit. Everything else dampens their delivery.
Guilty, but just barely. More slapdash than special.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R