Retro Film Review: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)

in #aaalast month


Ten years don't seem to be enough time for individuals to paint rosy picture of their own pasts, so nostalgia - one of the most valuable assets of popular entertainment industry - usually operates in 20-year intervals. In 1970s people fondly remembered 1950s, in 1980s they fondly remembered 1960s and in 1990s they fondly remembered 1970s. Hollywood embracing 1980s nostalgia in late 1990s – before the next phase of 20 year cycle - was one of the signs of creative despair. However, that creative despair didn't always produce bad results. One of them was Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, 1997 comedy directed by David Mirkin.

Robin Schiff wrote script for this film based on the play Ladies' Room, inspired by overheard conversation of two women in late 20ies. Such women are protagonists of this film - Romy (played by Mira Sorvino) and Michele (played by Lisa Kudrow), two best friends who had left their home town of Tucson together trying to find new, more glamorous life in Los Angeles. They are still friends now and spend all their time and intellectual capacities to parties and trying to look good. That comes at the expense of their professional and romantic lives - Romy works as a cashier, Michele is unemployed and both of them are single. All that doesn't concern them much until the moment when they are invited to their high school reunion. Realising that they have little to brag about to their former peers, Romy and Michele decide to fake success by claiming to be inventors and businesswomen. But Heather (played by Janeane Garofalo), their former classmate and real businesswoman, is more than able to blow their cover.

On one hand, basic plot behind this film looks like just another "high concept" comedy. On the other hand, it gives opportunity for Schiff for satirical stab at modern values and the ways in which the individuals and their success is viewed in our times. For the most part, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion doesn't wander out of usual cliches and stereotypes. Wonderful performances of Sorvino and Kudrow - who exploit their ditzy blonde characters without making them dislikeable - are the reason why this film works despite its shortcomings. At times, humour is shallow and often drifts to unnecessary seriousness, but the audience is nevertheless going to be entertained. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, therefore, could be recommended even to those viewers who don't particularly care for the opportunity to enjoy 1980s pop music once again.

RATING: 5/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on January 16th 2004)

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