2 items from 1997
ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
While it doesn't always work and the story structure often plays hooky, "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" nevertheless generates laughs as big as the title characters' hair (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow).
A schoolyard dweeb's vengeance fantasy that marks the big-screen directorial debut of David Mirkin, the Touchstone picture has the advantage of killer comic performances to help it through the rough spots.
For anybody who has ever played out an upcoming high school reunion in their heads with wait-'til-they-see-me-now satisfaction, "Romy and Michele" has their number. Certain touches -- including having yearbook pictures come to life and a hysterically choreographed closing number -- lend the comedy its quirky charm (HR 4/24).
AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
Like a groovy 1960s concept album with only one or two disappointing tracks, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" is a gas for those in the same goofy state of mind as writer/co-star Mike Myers. The film takes aim at perhaps too broad a demographic spectrum -- with crude physical humor and English-style satire vying for laughs -- but there's enough craziness and great gags to overcome its shortcomings.
A frequently hilarious spoof of British spy movies and the sexual revolution, the film has Myers in top form as a randy Mod spy reawakened after 30 years in the present day, and Elizabeth Hurley is delightful in her best role (HR 4/25). David Hunter
Also reviewed last week were "A Chef in Love" (HR 4/23); "Nothing Personal" (4/24); "Breakdown" and "Bliss" (4/25); and "Camp Stories" and "Inside the Goldmine" (4/28).
While it doesn't always work and the story structure often plays hooky, "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" nevertheless generates laughs as big as the title characters' hair.
A schoolyard dweeb's vengeance fantasy that marks the big-screen directorial debut of David Mirkin ("The Simpsons") and the writing debut for former Groundling Robin Schiff ("Almost Perfect"), the Touchstone picture has the advantage of killer comic performances to help it through the rough spots.
For anybody who has ever played out an upcoming high school reunion in their heads with wait-'til-they-see-me-now satisfaction, "Romy and Michele" has their number, and the film could prove to be a minor therapeutic hit.
Reprising the role she originated in Schiff's play "Ladies' Room", Lisa Kudrow is the underachieving Michele, who has been best friends with the similarly stuck-in-the-'80s Romy (Mira Sorvino) since childhood.
Roommates since graduation (and we're not talking college), they are forced to take stock of their lives in the face of their looming 10-year high school reunion. And coming to the shocking realization that they have very little to brag about, they devise a plan to reinvent themselves.
Of course, when they ultimately show up, former classmate and perennial party pooper Heather Mooney (the always-welcome Janeane Garofalo) manages to quickly blow their ruse about their having invented Post-It Notes, which, in turn, teaches them a valuable lesson about being true to oneself.
While Sorvino and Kudrow don't always jibe performance-wise -- Sorvino is an actress conscious of playing a funny character as opposed to Kudrow, who has the gift of being naturally very funny -- they pull off the tricky feat of being "duh" without being dumb.
Still, both get blown out of the water whenever the peerless Garofalo appears. As the grudge-bearing Mooney, she's a blast, brandishing her old high school stigma like an Uzi with a fresh clip.
After a very promising start, the picture loses its way for a while before regaining its footing by the end. Part of the problem is that Mirkin and Schiff have a weakness for the absurd (particularly during an overextended reunion fantasy sequence) that ends up messing with the momentum.
On the other hand, certain touches -- including having yearbook pictures come to life and a hysterically choreographed closing number that is sort of a revenge of the nerds pas de trois -- lend the comedy its quirky charm.
Production values are fine, with standout work from costume designer Mona May, who does some very scary things with fabric. She's rivaled only by Kevin Haney's bulletproof character makeup creations.
ROMY AND MICHELE'S
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Touchstone Pictures presents
a Laurence Mark production
in association with Bungalow 78 Prods.
Director David Mirkin
Producer Laurence Mark
Screenwriter Robin Schiff
Executive producers Barry Kemp, Robin Schiff
Director of photography Reynald Villalobos
Production designer Mayne Berke
Editor David Finfer
Costume designer Mona May
Music Steve Bartek
Casting Marcia Ross
Romy Mira Sorvino
Michele Lisa Kudrow
Heather Janeane Garofalo
Sandy Frink Alan Cumming
Christie Julia Campbell
Billy Vincent Ventresca
Toby Camryn Manheim
Cheryl Mia Cottet
Running time -- 91 minutes
MPAA rating: R
2 items from 1997
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