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Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)



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Take Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe character, from television's Friends, remove most of what's funny about her, and you've got Michele, one of the two title characters of this high school reunion movie. Romy, played by Mira Sorvino, is a slightly gruffer, slightly less ditzy version of the same character.

The movie opens when them discovering that their ten year high school reunion is imminent. Flashbacks set the stage for what they will face. There's all the standard stereotypes -- Miss Prissy, Mr. Dumb Jock, Miss On the Verge of Dropping Out Punk With an Attitude, and so on. For the flashback sequences, this is fine, because memories tend to remember only the extremes. On route to the reunion, Michele has a dream sequence, where they arrive at the reunion, encounter their old high school classmates and find them as flat, simplistic, and cliched as they remembered. And that's ok too.

But I was disappointed, to say the least, when the "reality" of the reunion turned out to be just as shallow. I'm convinced that none of the writers had ever been to a high school reunion of their own -- or if they had, they did not draw upon the experience to write this script. If anything is true in life, it's that people surprise you. When one is nervous about a pivotal future encounter with someone, one invariably dwells upon the worst of the possibilities, but rarely does the meeting proceed as predicted. People change in ten years. I would have expected Romy and Michele's old classmates to have surprised both them and the audience with slight but unexpected changes in their personalities -- mostly a mellowing out that comes with maturity.

Obviously this is not an easy social phenomenon to capture in a movie, but if you're going to do a high school reunion movie, you should do it right. I wasn't expecting anything profound from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion -- its primary purpose is comedy, after all -- but I did expect more than the cartoon it delivered. As a cartoon, however, it works rather well and is sufficiently amusing to be decent featherweight entertainment.

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