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STUDIO: Touchstone Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
It’s Clueless after high school and without the Austenian pedigree.
Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo, and Alan Cumming.
Not always a great time, but worth revisiting–plus, there’s a buffet.
High school reunions are never fun–well, unless your overwhelming success outweighs your obvious mediocrity. More so than what you’ve done with last however many years of your life, your looks and bankroll take precedent over mindless small talk at reunions. Does a reunion with with your adolescent insecurities seem like fun? Check ‘yes’ on your ten year graduation anniversary invitation.
Recreating the perfect high school reunion seems even more difficult than having fun at one. It’s expected that characters look at their former selves and evaluate from a more mature perspective. What makes Romy and Michele so much fun, though, is that they haven’t matured. Their lack of insight, either due to ignorance or just plain confidence, is infectious, raising their movie to higher places than it probably should.
For Romy and Michele (Sorvino and Kudrow, respectively) not much has changed since high school. While their teenage enemies grew up and married the captain of the football team, they ended up happily broke as the receptionist of a Jaguar dealership and unemployed. Still, they have Pretty Women and a club to awkwardly dance at every friday night, so, really, what’s to complain about.
When Romy sees high school weirdo Heather Mooney (Garofalo) picking up her Jag at the dealership, she’s reminded of how little she’s done since they last met. Mooney, now rich off inventing a fast burning cigarette paper, mentions the reunion, which, considering she’s sitting on a mountain of cash, she seems ready for. Romy, on the other hand, does not.
With little to show for herself, and a desire to impress the people that hate her, Romy convinces Michele to go along with a simple lie: They invented Post-It notes. Armed with their terrible story and some fancy, business-women haircuts, the two make the trip from LA to Reno to reunite with Romy’s worst memories.
Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion stretches that idea as far as it can go. With most of the film devoting itself to thinking and talking about the reunion, their actual plan of attack seems a bit hasty. It’s funny in spurts, but the weak premise can’t sustain the films slower moments. Kudrow and Sorvino recognize this, committing to the role in a way that is consistently funny. They’re both hopeless, yet rarely negative. Their fun and exuberance making Romy and Michele a light treat.
Determined to overcome a weak script, Romy and Michele works extra hard to excite things. Director David Mirkin, a Simpsons vet, fills out the film’s 90 minutes with lucid flashbacks and hilarious dream sequences. They do little to progress the plot, but seeing the two leads at the height of their nerdiness is worth it. Not much happens in the film (in fact, the plot probably would’ve worked better on Kudrow’s Friends), but things vary enough to keep things exciting. Mirkin sweeps his camera across the sets and around his characters to compensate for the lack of action, making for a more visceral experience than one might expect. Sorvino and Kudrow don’t excel in physical comedy (except for when they dance) but rather in dialogue, where their deadpan wit and total oblivion wins.
Romy and Michele isn’t Citizen Kane. There’s no grand message about the nature of cinema or any desire to push the medium forward. What it is, though, is a perfectly serviceable and endearing comedy, which avoids weaker stretches with a little ingenuity and whole lot of commitment. The film’s light exterior, original characters, and oddball shortcuts make up a fantastic cult hit, which anyone not taking it too seriously would appreciate.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion doesn’t really come with much. This 15th anniversary edition just gives you the opportunity to reunite with the film, but as far as any retrospection goes, this one is sorely lacking. There’s a strong opportunity for some monster “Reunion” edition, with cast/crew commentaries, interviews, and a look at the film’s cult status, but it looks like we’ll have to hold out for the 20th anniversary.