thatcow

Did you deduct sixteen pounds for your shoes?

This film was out in theaters about the same time as the first Austin Powers movie. I saw both and found them trying to appeal at a kind of uncomplicated, easy kind of humor, but despite all the buzz around Austin Powers, I found Romy and Michele the better movie - or at least more enjoyable.

Romy and Michele went to high school in Tucson Arizona and were best friends amongst the various cliques of the school. These divisions create cattiness and cruelty, and these two suffer at the hands of the "A group", and primarily their leader, Christie Masters. We see it all in a series of flashbacks that do, frankly, take quite a while to move on from all the reminscing and get to the reunion itself.

These two are very much a parody of themselves, stereotypical blondes (Romy is not a natural, though) who simply are oriented toward their day to day existence and their sole intellectual pursuit seems to be fashion. Mira Sorvino (Romy) and Lisa Kudrow (Michele) are perfect in portraying their shallow natures. How shallow? Their big argument in the film is over which of them is the "Mary" and which is the "Rhoda". Kudrow, in particular, seems to usually play this character, while Sorvino simply shows more of her range.

Structurally, this is a strange movie. We start off with those flashbacks, and then before we get to the end we have an extended dream sequence of what Michele imagines the reunion to be like, and while there are clues at the start, it's easy to be misled before the unreality of it hits full force. And then finally we get to the "real" reunion. We lose the benefits of the traditional escalating plot line, but does it matter? The film gets across its humor anyway, and it's not that big a distraction unless you want to force traditional ideas about movies on it.

And then there's Janeane Garofalo as Heather Mooney, part of the geek squad in school, and one who spread as much gloom with her acerbic personality as she received. Her energy steals every scene that she's in. While I hate to see her get too stereotyped, this casting is perfect for this kind of supporting role.

Why is this better than Austin Powers? Because it actually tries to come to some conclusions about its characters. Their lives have been constrained one way or another, and they have (or at least most of them have) matured since high school, just some need to realize that fact.

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is not a great film, but it's a good one that's both funny and obliquely insightful.

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