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Blu-ray Review: Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion – 15th Anniversary Edition

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Had I been given the choice, I very well may have skipped my 10 year high school reunion.  It would not have been a decision made out of animosity or anger or upset, just out of having somewhat less curiosity than I probably  should.  However, I married my high school sweetheart, so it wasn’t a choice I was given. 

Perhaps though, I didn’t want to go for other reasons, perhaps I didn’t want to go out of fear.  Watching a film like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion not only causes one to have an absolute blast at the foolishness of these two women and everyone around them, but it also provides a kind of nightmare scenario for high school reunions. 

Directed by David Mirkin with a screenplay from Robin Schiff, Romy and Michele posits that these two airheads who moved out to L.A. after high school, Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow), want to show up to their reunion with better lives than they actually have.  It is something that many of us may consider, although, most people would probably just end up either not showing up to the reunion at all or coming up with a far better lie than the one our lead characters concoct.  They opt to be “businesswomen” but initially don’t bother to come up with a business to be in.  In the end, they choose to claim to have invented Post-its.  I mentioned that they’re not particularly bright, right?

Much of the film isn’t actually the reunion, it’s these two women trying to make their lives better (which is option one prior to a reunion before the whole lying thing) in foolish ways.  They need boyfriends.  Michele needs a job.  Romy wants to lose weight.  The humor is in the foolishness of the attempts, it is something akin to a less dumb Dumb and Dumber but with lots of flashbacks to high school and the terror of a class reunion.

The film never lingers too long on one idea (save, perhaps, a dream sequence which does go on slightly longer than it should), preferring to lightheartedly skip around from moment to moment.  Some of this may be in an effort to camouflage the fact that neither Romy nor Michele is hugely likable and that in large doses they can be downright annoying, but it works. 

The film is helped by good supporting performances by Janeane Garofalo in full-on black-wearing, grumbling, and cursing mode; Camryn Manheim; and Alan Cumming.  All three play classmates of Romy and Michele’s, as does Julia Campbell who gets to be the leader of the “A group” and a completely horrendous person.  It is actually because Campbell’s character, Christy, is such a horrible person that Romy and Michele can get a pass for being as dumb as they are.

Beyond that, the film actually ends up with something of a good message and one which it wouldn’t hurt for most folks to realize.  Simply put, it is this – in high school (and probably well beyond it), we all (whether purposefully or by accident) end up making other people feel horrible just as someone is making/has made us feel horrible, we just can’t necessarily see what we’re doing to someone else because we’re so focused on what is being done to us.  The way Romy and Michele make Heather (Garofalo) feel horrible in high school is unintentional and therefore forgivable while the way Christy makes Romy and Michele feel horrible is purposeful and therefore not forgivable.

Also not forgivable is the transfer this film has been given on Blu-ray.  One can ignore the varying amounts of noise/grain in the print depending on the shot, the detail is good, and the nighttime filming doesn’t lose any clarity whatsoever, but there is another, large, problem.  In at least two close-ups, the coloring actually changes mid-shot, going from something approaching normal to terribly red.  The faces being looked at, despite a lack of outrage, simply turn red (the backgrounds appear to change color to a lesser degree).   The soundtrack, a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, is without such issues.  Being a comedy, it is heavily focused on the dialogue track, but it still manages to kick into gear for songs and the occasional effect.  The film does have an excellent soundtrack and it comes across very well in the release.

The only extras to speak of her are a terribly short EPK-type promo featurette and a trailer.  The film does, happily, have a menu, but it would have been nice, especially as this is an anniversary edition, to have something more complete.  Does no one really want to come back to this well-liked comedy 15 years later to discuss it?  I would imagine that some of the folks who worked on it would have done so had they been asked.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is a funny, at time touching, lighthearted comedy.  If one lingers too long contemplating the characters the amusement might drain from the film, but its themes are ones to which we can all relate and are handled well enough to make watching the movie an enjoyable experience.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.