Now and Then
1995, PG-13, 96 min. Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. Starring Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffman, Thora Birch, Ashleigh Aston Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith, Rita Wilson.
REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., Oct. 27, 1995
We need more films about girls – big girls and little girls. But as much as Lesli Linka Glatter's debut feature promises to be a Stand By Me for girls, Now and Then fails in its attempt to portray both the present and the past with equal success. It's sweet and it's often funny, but ultimately its slice-of-life approach tries too hard to incorporate current events like the Vietnam War. Set predominantly in the summer of 1970, Now and Then describes a summer in which four 12-year-olds from Shelby, Indiana, save their money to buy a room of their own in the form of a treehouse from Sears. Roberta (Ricci), Samantha (Hoffman), Teeny (Birch), and Chrissy (Aston Moore) are four friends who spend the summer conducting seances, trading pranks with the local family of terrorizing boys, and saving their “treehouse dollars.” The four young actresses effectively convey that on-the-verge feeling between puberty and teen-hood, and smaller roles played by Janeane Garofalo, Bonnie Hunt, and Cloris Leachman provide entertaining distractions. However, less effective are the present-day segments in which the girls are played by an interesting combination of bankable adult actresses: O'Donnell as Roberta, Demi Moore as Samantha, Griffith as Teeny, and Wilson as Chrissy. Trailers for the film shrewdly play both sides against the middle by marketing the film toward adults and young girls, but viewers expecting to see the adult actresses as much as their younger counterparts will be disappointed. Bracketing the film in two segments that bring Teeny and Samantha back to Shelby for the birth of Chrissy's first child (delivered by Roberta, now an obstetrician), the scenes and the actresses fall flat in an attempt to cram a reunion, a birth, and a reconciliation with the past into less than 20 minutes of screen time. Now and Then somewhat successfully pushes all the right emotional buttons by depicting themes common to most young girls, but I expected more, not less, from the now in Now and Then.