Tuesday, January 7, 2014

45. Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion (1997)

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) Poster

Code-name: Post-it's
[contrary to the testaments of our titular duo, Post-it's were invented by Art Fry in 1977]

Writer: Robin Schiff
Director: David Mirkin
Type: R-rated comedy, 1980's playlist

Romy White- Mira Sorvino
Michelle Weinberger- Lisa Kudrow
Heather Moony- Janeane Garofalo
Sandy Frank- Alan Cumming
Christy Masters- Julia Campbell
Billy Christiansen- Vincent Ventresca
Lisa Luder- Elaine Hendrix
Ramon- Jacob Vargas
Clarence ("the cowboy")- Justin Theroux



Romy and Michelle are besties who'd been living together in LA since high school graduation in 1987. They love to go out dancing and design their own clothes. While working the receptionist desk one day at a Jaguar dealer, Romy runs into fellow Sagebrush High graduate, Heather Moony, from whom she hears about the upcoming 10 year high school reunion.

The girls quickly discover that their lives might not be as glamorous as they had once thought, what with Romy being just a receptionist and Michelle being unemployed, and neither of them in a relationship. They then get the idea that they should pretend to their classmates that they were successful. Part of this lie is that they are businesswomen who invented Post-it's... of course, not all goes according to plan, but they quickly discover that being themselves was good enough.

Characters and Dialogue
Some spoilers to follow

Both of these items go hand in hand because they're the reason I keep coming back to this movie. Everyone is approachable, either because you were them in high school or you knew them in high school. You have the popular girls known as the A-Group (Christie, Kelly, Lisa and Cheryl), the hot jock (Billy Christansen) dating the queen bee that you had a monster crush on, the nerds, geeks, goths and everyone in between.

Romy and Michelle roll off the tongue, not just because they're in the title, but because they've been besties their entire lives. They stick by one another and support each other no matter what is going on in their lives. You can't have one without the other. Romy is the realistic one who comes to the conclusion early on that they might not impress their classmates. Michelle is the optimist, a little clueless in a Valley Girl sort of way, but her heart is in the right place.
For me personally, I think I'm more of a Romy, but I had scoliosis like Michelle did (minus the back-brace... we had to opt for surgery in my case).

Heather Moony is a role clearly written for Janeane Garofalo. She's an avid smoker, kinda like a pit-bull with a dry sense of humor with anti-social tendencies. Interestingly, though, she found success in inventing quick burning paper for cigarettes. We see her get this idea in a high school flashback where she moans "they should have a cigarette you can finish in between classes"
She was also in love with the nerd "affectioniately" dubbed Freakazoid, Sandy Frank who only had eyes for Michelle, who wanted nothing to do with him.

A lot of the movies on this half of my countdown are highly quotable, to the point where it's hard for me to shut up during the movie. I can't necessarily put "Romy & Michelle" on mute and do it all from memory, but the dialogue is unbelievably hilarious... even witty on occasion. In general, I think most of the best quotes are zingers.

Like when Romy and Michelle have the falling out before the reunion, an argument that included which one of them was "the Mary" ala Mary & Rhoda... the dream sequence version of the reunion goes as planned, the girls go their separate ways, we fast-forward 70 years and Romy, who's on her death bed, refuses to talk to Michelle until "you admit that I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda." To me, it's just hilarious hearing a 90+ year old Lisa Kudrow repeating "I'm the Mary! I'm the Mary!"

Then at the actual reunion, Michelle comes to Romy's defense after Heather ruins their  Post-it's lie.
Michelle: What are you picking on us for? We're not the ones who got fat.
Christie: We're pregnant, you half-wit
Michelle: Well... I hope your babies look like... monkeys.

Sometimes, it isn't just the line, it's the delivery. And Lisa Kudrow does it so well.

Then and Now

Next to quotability and memorable characters, I love this movie because of how the characters change (or don't change) over the years. Things even briefly alluded to, if you pay close attention, return and it brings a nice sense of unity to the film.

The A-Group is still phony and horribly written, no matter if it's 1987 or 1997. Christie Masters isn't just a class-A bitch, but sometimes you feel like you lose brain cells listening to her. No real person talks like that or that demeaning while doing so. She acts like she's always in control, both of her boyfriend and the rest of the A-group. But at the reunion, we find out that isn't quite the case.
It's an even nicer pay-off that Lisa Luder, who'd fallen out of touch with the A-Group, became an associate editor for Vogue and goes out of her way at the reunion to say that she approves of Romy & Michelle's clothing designs (after they ditch the phony businesswomen persona)... something she received disbelieving stares for saying in a flashback.
Then there's Christie's relationship with Billy. They'd been married 10 years, but their happiness is a complete farce. Even in flashbacks before he became an alcoholic, I didn't think he was as good looking as Romy did. But gotta love how they burn him for leaving Romy at the prom after saying he'd dance with her.

Heather Moony didn't really change UNTIL the reunion where she finally got to know the "cowboy" in high school who kept flicking cigarettes in her direction cuz she didn't have a light.
Toby, the eager-as-a-beaver yearbook girl, didn't change at all, but she did get up the courage to tell Heather how she hurt her feelings in high school... I mean, c'mon, every time they were in a flashback together and she wanted to get a yearbook picture, Heather told her to "f*** off."... it's even more hilarious that Heather is thrilled to hear this because she didn't think she made anyone as miserable in high school as Romy & Michelle did (because they looked good and it drove Sandy crazy).

Easily, the most changed for the better since high school was Sandy Frank... who apparently became super rich after inventing a special kind of rubber that's used in every tennis shoe... yet the only thing he wanted but never got was Michelle.
Kinda shallow, yes, but now she gives him the time of day.
Surprisingly, Heather sees how much he changed and said "what the hell was I thinking?" as if getting rich and polished ruined him for her :-P

The Music

We own the soundtrack to this movie. Pretty much everything you hear used in the movie was from the 80's (except for No Doubt's "I'm Just a Girl," heard during the opening credits)... my favorite musical decade.
The physical soundtrack is good, though none of the songs are in order and it only has 10 songs... they should have released an extended edition.

  1. Our LIps are Sealed- The Go-Go's (the reunion after dream sequence)
  2. Venus- Banarama (the reunion after the costume change)
  3. Something to Remind me- Naked Eyes (the reunion dream sequence)
  4. Dance Hall Days- Wang Chung (high school prom flashback)
  5. Turning Japanese- The Vapors (on the car ride to the reunion)
  6. I Want Candy- Bow Wow Wow (lunch time flashback)
  7. Karma Chameleon- Culture Club (on the car ride during the argument)
  8. Everybody Wants to rule the world- Tears for Fears (after Romy & Michelle's clothes get rave reviews)
  9. Heaven is a place on Earth- Belinda Carlisle (Romy & Michelle leaving with Sandy)
  10. We Got the Beat- The Go-Go's (the scarf-folding scene at the end)
Yes, a little heavy on the Go-Go's, but they do kinda fit Romy and Michelle to a tee with their attitude. I love a lot of Euro pop music, particularly Tears for Fears and this Wang Chung track.

Other songs that stand out include:

  • "Time after Time"- plays during prom AND the reunion during Romy & Michelle's three-way interpretative dance with Sandy... it could almost be their theme song
  • "Footloose"- which we heard go on and off because their Jaguar stalled out a couple times before they could take off
  • "Don't get me wrong" by the Pretenders- the first song you hear when you arrive at the reunion... somehow for me, it just sets the perfect musical tone for these pivotal scnes
  • Robert Palmer tracks "Addicted to Love" and "Bad Case of Lovin' You"
Final Thoughts

FYI, there was a made-for-TV prequel that was released... it was God-awful. Beyond the title characters, it brought back nothing that made this movie as great as it was.

If anything, this movie got me thinking about counting the years down to my own 10 year high school reunion. I'm one year away from that, but I really have nothing to show for it except a college degree. I suppose I could share a couple links to my blogs and say I wrote a bunch of short stories and a couple novels not ready for publication, but there's nothing I can physically show for myself. Not yet anyway. Maybe at the 15 or 20 year reunion, I might be better off and feel confident enough to show up.
There's also the fact that the guy I had a crush on who didn't return my feelings recently got engaged. I only maintained one friendship from high school and we knew each other in middle school.

Yeah, if anything, I went out of my way to not really make friends because I never fit in anywhere... so I can relate a lot to Romy & Michelle except for the fact I didn't have a bestie to spend that time with. Most of the time, I think of high school as being a time of endless misery.. unless I had something to preoccupy me. I did take part in concert choir and did a couple musicals... too bad most of those people weren't in the same grade as me :-P

I know I usually go through these reviews saying how I knew the different actors and such. For me, most of it is about the characters rather than the actors who play them. Of course, there are a couple exceptions:
LIsa Kudrow, I only knew because I love the show "Friends." Mira Sorvino, I'd later see in my favorite "Will & Grace" episode. And Alan Cumming... I adore him. He's a great guy and a great actor. Even though he's gone gray recently, he looks good and I especially loved his recent cameos on "The Colbert Report." Yet another actor who can sing real well.

I saw one Janeane Garofalo HBO special and fell asleep halfway through. I don't know if it's so much that I didn't find her funny or I disagreed with the jokes she was telling (none of which I remember). She was a guest on "Seinfeld," who Jerry thought was going to be his soulmate, but decides to break off their engagement cuz they're too much alike :-P only on a TV show do you have that situation, seriously.
Recently, though, when I hear her name, I automatically think of this line in "Fanboys" said by Zoey (Kristen Bell).

"A girl who's a cross between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Janeane Garofalo, it's too good to be true."
Personally, I find it kinda hilarious that Windows (Jay Baruchel) considered her hot. Not the typical girl that gets fan-boy'd over, to my understanding.

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