Your typical coming-of-age story usually features a child or teenager who endures a series of trials that make them more confident and self-assured, and stronger in their convictions about who they are, and what they want. In this story, the characters are amazing and house a potential to be great in ways that the audience or reader can see quite clearly, and early on, but that the character themselves cannot. We are rooting for them to stop settling for less, wasting their time with toxic relationships, and grab life by the horns. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is not your typical coming-of-age story.
Best friends Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) are in their late twenties and their lives seem to be headed nowhere fast. They’ve endured everything together, including high school, and always had big dreams of having their own fashion line, but moving to Los Angeles is just about the only step they’ve taken in that direction. Romy and Michele aren’t trapped in toxic relationships of any sort and are generally quite happy, but they still don’t have boyfriends or steady jobs, their high school reunion is right around the corner, and the people who made them miserable in high school will all be there, so they decide to do what any unsuccessful adult would do: lie.
With an unexpected comedic turn from Sorvino and a co-lead in comedy veteran Kudrow, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is hilarious enough, but the ensemble cast of classmates past, including the moody, sarcastic Heather (Janeane Garofalo), the meek yet brilliant Sandy (Alan Cumming), and the bright and bubbly Toby (Camryn Manheim) take it right over the top. This film is non-stop laughs from beginning to end, but (although the titular characters are Gen X) it is also painfully relatable for many Millennials, who feel that their lives are not what they thought they would be back in high school or college, who may feel like they haven’t accomplished all that they set out to.
The film also reminds us that bullies come in all ages, and that the insecure may never grow out of their immaturity, but being able to dismiss the irrelevant opinions of toxic people is a mark of personal growth. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion isn’t just a cult classic because it’s about two “dumb” blondes who dress very loudly. It’s a classic because it’s a movie about living life at your own pace and not measuring your success with someone else’s yardstick. Not everyone has it all figured out, and it’s okay to take your time getting there, as long as you don’t lose sight of your goals. Above all, this is a movie about friendship, and how strong friendships may not always be perfect, but good friends always help you find your center and remind you of who you are, and what’s truly important. I give this one 3.25 stars.