Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

on April 25, 1997 by Christine James
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Buena Vista's second high school reunion film in as many weeks, "Romy and Michele" is just as charming and quirky as "Grosse Pointe Blank," with a lighter yet equally witty script. Fun and funny are the adjectives that characterize the mood of the film, with hilariously winsome performances by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow as the titular dimwit duet. Sorvino's talent for amusingly odd vocal inflections (which helped get her that Oscar for "Mighty Aphrodite") is key to Romy's Valley Girl appeal; Kudrow's Michele may be "Friends'" Phoebe redux, but it works well in this tale of two nonconformist butslackerly misfits who fabricate glamorous lives to impress their former high school nemeses.
   Their faux fairytale is threatened to be exposed when Heather (Janeane Garofalo), the one person who knows the truth of their unambitious existences, comes on the scene. Once the outcast loser of the student body, Heather is now a sharp-tongued and successful businesswoman who, despite her contempt for her former peers, is reluctantly drawn to the reunion by the possibility of fulfilling a 10-year unrequited love.
   "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" is replete with audiovisual delights; with our heroines' outrageous fashion sense and a soundtrack jam-packed with '80s hits, the film captures much of the glamor and glitter indigenous to Me Generation-era offspring. Yet, in addition to bubbly baubles, there are some real gems in the script, and in the performances as well. (Particularly inspired is an unrehearsed yet astonishingly well-choreographed interpretive dance a trois of Cyndi Lauper's soppy ballad "Time After Time.") With clever flashbacks and wacky dream sequences, there's never a lag in the humor or the pace. True, some of the comeuppances of the snobby former "A- group" are pretty predictable, but our perky protagonists win cheers for standing up for themselves with panache aplenty.
   If the film wants anything, it's probably more allusions to the last decade to sate the nostalgia of the target audience; more investigation into how everyone else's lives turned out; and more inventiveness regarding payback and karma. Even so, "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" is a buoyant good time in its warmly riotous celebration of individuality and friendship.    Starring Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow and Janeane Garofalo. Directed by David Mirkin. Written by Robin Schiff. Produced by Laurence Mark. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated R for language. Running time: 91 min
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