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At the time of its 1997 release, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion felt like a borderline spoof on the '80s, and revisiting the movie 15 years later, it's almost as though an added layer of parody has developed, when considering the brightly colored outfits and '90s pop-hits emphasized in the "present" portion of the film. As someone who loved the comedy when it originally released into theaters, the datedness only makes it all the more charming, as it gives the movie a second helping of nostalgia.
Directed by David Mirkin, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion stars Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow as the title characters, and follows the duo of dimwitted twentysomethings as they prepare to leave Los Angeles and head back to Tucson to attend their high school reunion. The supporting cast includes a number of familiar names such as Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, Julia Campbell, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Mia Cottet, Elaine Hendrix, Camryn Manheim, and Justin Theroux.
The film regularly jumps back to the past to reveal Romy and Michele's '80s-set high school days, when their ahead-of-their-time fashion choices and social awkwardness (due to a weight problem and a bout of scoliosis) kept them from infiltrating the higher-ranked social circles. They weren't cool, by the standards of their classmates, but they had each other, they had fashion, and they had dreams of graduating high school and leaving Tucson far behind.
In present day, Romy and Michele's limited dreams have come true, as they're still best friends and now living in Los Angeles. And while they're content sharing an apartment, obsessing over fashion, and club-hopping their nights away, their approaching high school reunion causes them to reconsider the state of their lives as it will be perceived by the people who once treated them like social lepers. Sure, they got out of Tucson, but Michele is unemployed and Romy's job isn't exactly glamorous. In an effort to impress the former schoolmates, they come up with a plan to lie about their lives, claiming to be successful businesswomen.
This is a movie set in 1997 -- before Facebook made everyday a high school reunion for the average twentysomething -- but the message about finding happiness in who you are, rather than feeling the need to measure up to other people's expectations, still resonates. What's more, Romy and Michele is still as funny and charming as it was 15 years ago. That's due in large part to Kudrow and Sorvino's chemistry together, from the moments when they're getting along like sisters to the ones when they're fighting…like sisters. It's easy to believe they'd still be together 10 years after leaving high school and their hometown behind.
Beyond Kudrow and Sorvino's performances and chemistry, the film does well in not taking itself too seriously. It isn't a spoof of the '80s, but there are enough nods to the decade, including the music and fashion, to draw laughs, and a bit of synchronized dancing caps off the goofy humor perfectly. If you consider the '90s side of the film to add a bit of unintentional nostalgic value, Romy and Michele holds up well.
The 15th Anniversary Edition would have been a great opportunity to revisit the film with some additional bonus features. A commentary featuring director David Mirkin, along with Kudrow and Sorvino, would have been great, and I wouldn't have minded a digital copy. Unfortunately, the only additional content featured on the Blu-ray is the production featurette from the previously released DVD, the theatrical trailer, and some sneak-peeks advertising the DVDs for some of ABC's new series (The Missing, The River, Once Upon a Time, etc). The production featurette, which features a few snippets of the movie and some comments from the cast on their characters, seems more like something to promote the movie itself, as opposed to giving us a real look at the making of the movie.
Romy and Michele looks decent converted to Blu-ray, with the movie's "fun, frisky use of color" standing out even brighter in high-def. But if you already own it on DVD, you may be better off waiting in the hopes that Disney will eventually celebrate the movie with a few more bonus features.
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