Robin Schiff’s ‘Romy and Michele’ marks platinum anniversary

You’re kidding me. It’s been 20 years since Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion? God, where have I been?

Whether you’re the Mary or the Rhoda, you can understand why Robin Schiff’s 1997 comedy has staying power. Based on the stage play Ladies Room, the film tells the story of dimwitted Valley girls, Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) en route to their high school reunion.

In the decade since wanting to be in the “A” Group, crushing on Billy Christianson and fending off pesky Sandy Frink, the blonde best friends haven’t accomplished all that much (besides watching Pretty Woman for the 26th time). When it comes time to impress their former classmates in a pre-Facebook era, there’s really only one thing to do: claim they invented Post-Its. Romy thought of them and Michele thought of making them yellow.

Underneath the schtick and all-things-90s (here’s looking at you, flip phone), its empowering feminist message is still relevant two decades years later. Romy and Michele’s fake invention of the Post-It note is a heightened version of reality, much like today’s social media culture of manufactured personas and cherry-picked glamour shots of daily life.

By the end of their journey, both women realize the “A” Group peaked in high school, never realizing their dreams and settling for unhappy, unfulfilling lives. Although Romy and Michele aren’t exactly successful business women, they’re perfectly content with the path they’ve chosen and the strong bond they share with each other; quality over quantity, always.

Like a female-led version of Dumb and Dumber, its immortality is rooted in a truthful portrayal of human behavior. Director David Mirkin, along with Sorvino, Kudrow and the impressive supporting cast (including Janeane Garofalo and Alan Cumming), understand the satirical nature of Schiff’s script and execute it with unabashed brilliance. They capture the feeling of not being good enough and channel it into a funny, lighthearted romp without the nudity and vulgarity now largely accepted, and even encouraged, in today’s blockbuster comedies.

Whether viewers are approaching their 10-year reunion or their 50th, there’s a little Romy and Michele in all of us: the insecurities, the ingenuity, the love for gummy bears, jelly beans and candy corn.

If only we had their discipline.

© Brigid K. Presecky (4/27/17) FF2 Media

Photos: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino as “Michele Weinberger” and “Romy White”

Photo Credits: Touchstone Pictures

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Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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