Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
Directed by David Mirkin. Starring Lisa Kudrow, Mira Sorvino, Janeane Garofalo. (1997, R, 91 min.)
REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., May 2, 1997
Romy (Sorvino) and Michele (Kudrow) are poor, their idea of ultimate pathos is the scene in Pretty Woman in which Julia Roberts gets the snub from Rodeo Drive shop clerks, and their Wonderbras are filled out a lot more substantially than their crania. Still, they're happy -- at least until word of their upcoming 10-year high school reunion sets them off on a binge of anxiety and regret about their humble stations in life. How, the two roomies and lifelong pals wonder, are they going to wow all those A-List girls and unattainable cute guys who once regarded them as geeks? With all the strategic acumen that our culture generally ascribes to well-stacked young blondes, they hatch an absurd plan to pose as business entrepreneurs who've earned queenly fortunes by inventing Post-It notes. Their ruse is exposed almost instantly, of course, leaving them to face down their teenage demons with only their friendship, chutzpah, and daringly insouciant fashion wiles as weapons. The tension is heightened by a spat between the pair that comes to a head over the issue of who's the “Mary” and who's the “Rhoda” in the relationship. Hot rats! you say, a movie that combines two of the tiredest, most thoroughly tapped-out comic themes of all: dumb blondes and high school reunions. Well, insofar as there are no fresh, unexpected jokes in this adaptation of Robin Schiff's play, The Ladies' Room, your worst fears about this film will be confirmed. However, if you're even slightly disposed to give bonus credit for sweet-naturedness, lack of pretension, and gung-ho, no-guts-no-glory comic acting, then you might find Romy and Michele worth a matinee flyer. Sorvino and Kudrow, for whatever inscrutable reasons, seem to be having a blast with their ridiculous characters, and both shine in the loopy set-pieces and dream sequences that pepper the story. At times, they even manage to evoke some pity and fellow feeling as the bimboesque but essentially benign duo are tormented by nasty -- though no less shallow -- cheerleader types. And Garofalo, who's making a career out of providing the brightest, funniest moments in mediocre films, does it again as a foul-mouthed former punkette who rains nonstop invective on all the assembled grotesques. Other than these saving graces, however, I'm hard-pressed to muster any compelling reasons why you should risk the 1-in-838,990 chance of death in a fiery traffic accident to go see Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.