Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion
starring Mira Sorviono, Lisa Kudrow and Jeaneane Garofalo
screenplay by Robin Schiff
directed by David Mirkin
Did you hate your high school life? Have you ever gone to a high school reunion? Romy and Michelle’s High School reunion is a goofy and endearing film about a 10-year high school reunion, and how two marginally socially adapted women try to prepare for it.
In my mind I put the movie on my list of great school movies - mostly high school movies:
Good Morning, Miss Dove is about elementary school, but it’s the exception;
The Blackboard Jungle, about the beginning of the deterioration of American school life after the Second World War;
To Sir With Love, a great British film staring Sidney Poitier (one of my favorite actors);
Grease (Olivia Newton John and John Travolta);
Animal House (John Belushi);
Rock and RollHigh School (coundtrack by The Ramones, and an appearance by the band, too);
The Breakfast Club (Emilio Estevez, ally Sheeby, Molly Ringwald);
Better Off Dead (John Cusak); and, perhaps the greatest high school movie ever,
Fast Times at Ridgemont High starring Sean Penn.
Anyway, into such company I place Romy and Michelle. The two women, in their late 20’s now, left their dreary 1980s life at Sagebrush High in Tucson, Arizona to seek out adventure in Venice Beach, California. After ten years they are still single, still live together, one unemployed and the other a cashier.
The women sound like California Valley Girls because they speak and act in that same duffy manner. In that case I might say that it is a movie about what becomes of trendy Valley Girls when they grow up. Instead it is about empty-headed Reagan era teens from any part of the country who never really grow up, whose universe still consists of eating junk food and living like teenagers long past the age of living at home with Mom and Dad. In other words, it’s everyone’s fantasy! That alone packs it with a huge popularity as an off-beat kind of film with an excellent soundtrack.
Romy and Michelle have a firm hold on the language’s supply of vacuous vocabulary. While dancing in a club they are forced to dance together because of a paucity of cute men about, prompting Romy to wonder out loud, “Sometimes I wish I were a lesbian.” Michelle quickly comes back with, “do you want to try and have sex sometimes just to see if we are?” After a moment’s thought Romy concedes, “..if we’re not married by the time we’re thirty, ask me again.”
In dire need of good boyfriends to impress their old classmates (what else is a reunion for?), Romy goes trolling the bars. At the first nibble form an interested male she excuses herself, “Will you excuse me? I cut my foot before and my shoe is filing up with blood.”
Romy and Michelle resented“the A group” of girls at school who relegated them to permanent outsider status. So for them this reunion is seen only as a chance to impress their peers. This leads to Michelle’s dram fantasy of walking into the reunion, meeting the A group women and being told, “You must be the most successful person in our graduating class.” To which she quips, “Uh-huh, and you’re not. Bye!” and walks away. I liked that.
In reality it’s Romy who squares off against the leader of the A group ladies by declaring ‘I don’t care if you like us, because we don’t like you. You’re a bad person with an ugly hears, and we don’t give a flying **** what you think.”
Do you get the feeling that screenwriter Robin Schiff had a bad time at high school.
In the end we are left with the consoling truth - and that God somebody says it - “You know what, I bet in high school everybody made somebody’s life hell.” Amen.