Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reverend’s Reviews: High School Memories

Having won the “Changed the Most” award at my own ten-year high school reunion thanks to my ordination as a priest just a month beforehand, I could identify with the dream sequence in the 1997 comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion wherein its hapless heroines are similarly honored. Thanks to the film’s debut today on Blu-rayin a special 15th Anniversary Edition, we now have the opportunity to re-live their experience in high definition. I only wish I could be digitally restored to look as good!

Romy and Michele (winningly played by Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino and Emmy-winner Lisa Kudrow, respectively) were regarded as clueless party girls by their Tucson classmates. A decade later finds the BFFs rooming together in beachside Southern California but otherwise little has changed. Michele wants to be a fashion designer but is happily unemployed, whereas Romy is a cashier at the local Jaguar dealership. It is there that Romy once again crosses paths with gloriously bitchy schoolmate Heather (a hilarious Janeane Garofalo), who informs Romy of the upcoming reunion.

Determined to attend but not be perceived as losers, Michele and Romy go on a crash weight-loss program, rent a hot convertible, and concoct a plan to present themselves to their former classmates as the inventors of Post-It notes. While en route, however, they have a falling out in the wake of Michele’s “I’m the Mary and you’re the Rhoda” declaration to Romy. Will they patch things up in time for their scheme to succeed?

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion features a number of charms in addition to its memorable cast (a young and dorky, pre-out Alan Cumming also appears): a score chock-full of bouncy 80’s and 90’s dance hits (supervised by Oingo Boingo’s Steve Bartek), Reynaldo Villalobos’ colorful cinematography (which is especially prominent on the new Blu-ray), and the so-garish-they’re-stylish costumes designed by Mona May. Of note, screenwriter Robin Schiff went on to write and/or produce seasons of numerous TV series including Miss Match, Hung and the recent Are You There, Chelsea?

There is also a distinct GLBT sensibility to Romy and Michele that becomes overt when Michele, frustrated by their inability to land quality guys, proposes to Romy that they become lesbian lovers. Romy initially responds with disgust but quickly re-thinks her position. “If I’m not married by the time we’re 30,” Romy replies, “ask me again.” And the pair’s climactic, three-way dance with Cumming’s character set to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” is uproariously funny.

I hesitate to call the movie a contemporary classic by any stretch, mainly due to its sometimes erratic script, but it certainly has gained a devoted following. Sweet and snarky in equal measure — and sometimes simultaneously — it is worth checking out on Blu-ray whether one is seeing it for the first time or the umpteenth. Also out today for the first time on Blu-ray are a 25th anniversary editionof 1987’s family-friendly cult favorite Adventures in Babysitting and The Preacher’s Wife, a forced but tuneful 1996 remakeof Christmas chestnut The Bishop’s Wife starring Denzel Washington and the late Whitney Houston.

Reverend’s Rating: B-

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.


  1. Well, my column is called REVEREND's Reviews. Don't be scared though, Norma: I'm an openly gay, liberal, Reformed Catholic bishop.

  2. It has been forever since I last saw that film. I liked it though and I definitely can relate to the dream sequence in the film as well.


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