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Film / Beautiful Girls

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"Supermodels are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high full of the single greatest commodity known to man: promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a beautiful girl. In her smile, in her soul, the way she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay. The supermodels, Willy? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in stiletto heels."

Beautiful Girls is a 1996 dramedy film directed by Ted Demme and featuring an All-Star Cast, including Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Lauren Holly, Annabeth Gish, Noah Emmerich, Martha Plimpton, and Rosie O'Donnell.

Willie Conway (Hutton) is a struggling jazz pianist who goes back to his hometown of Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts for his high school reunion. Still living there is Tommy "Birdie" Rowland (Dillon), who was once the big man on campus at high school, but now owns his own shoveling and construction business. And even though he has a girlfriend, Sharon Cassidy (Sorvino), he's still seeing his high school girlfriend Darian Smalls (Holly) since neither of them can completely let go of the past. Meanwhile, Tommy's partner Paul Kirkwood (Rapaport) has been rejected by his girlfriend Jan (Plimpton) because he doesn't want to get married right away, and he's become obsessed with supermodels. Willie has his own baggage; he's engaged to Tracy Stover (Gish), whom he likes a lot, and is ready to quit piano playing and get a regular job, but part of him still wants to have one last fling. He, and his other friends, become attracted to Andera (Thurman), the cousin of one of their friends, and Willie also strikes up an unusual friendship with Marty (Portman), his precocious 13-year-old neighbor.

The film wasn't a big hit when it first came out (though it got decent reviews), but has since gained a cult following, partly because it helped make a star out of Natalie Portman.

Beautiful Tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Paul, though all of the guys are like this to some degree. See "The Reason You Suck" Speech below.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mo, who's generally the most even-tempered of the friends, is the one who gets the angriest when Tommy gets beat up, and is the one most gung-ho to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Steve in retaliation.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Paul, again.
    Paul: (trying to propose to Jan) Jan.
    Jan: Paul.
    Paul: Jan!
    Jan: Paul!
    Paul: Take the fucking ring!
    Jan: Oh, that's romantic.
  • Class Reunion: Ultimately subverted in that, for various reasons, only Darian ends up going to the actual event. However, the characters do act out this trope otherwise.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Paul: See these guys? Pete, Rizzo and Sammy B? They work all day and drink all night for 40 fucking years. Two weeks out of the year, they take a vacation and go to the Cape. What do they do? They drink all day, they drink all night...If we don't step it up, we're gonna wind up just like them.
    Kev: Cool.
  • Crowd Song: Played with; all of Willie's friends sing along when he starts playing "Sweet Caroline", but they're the only ones, it's justified by the fact he's playing the piano, and some of his friends are either off-tempo or slightly off-key.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Willie, Tommy, Marty, Paul and Gina especially fit this trope.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Willie over the decision he's got to make about his life.
    Tracy: You look awful.
    Willie: I've been drunk for two weeks.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Marty isn't short for "Martha"; she's named after her grandfather, Martin.
  • Gilligan Cut: At Tommy's surprise birthday party, Paul says he's going to be DJ'ing, and Gina yells to him, "No Jethro Tull!" Three guesses as to what plays in the next scene.
  • Happily Married: Mo and Sarah.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a brown diamond; it's champagne-colored. Lampshaded by Tommy.
    Kev: It's a trend in diamonds. Champagne. It's a nice stone.
    Willie: Yeah, no, I heard about this. It's a new trend in the diamond trade, they're trying to create a new market.
    Tommy: Oh, right, right. yeah. They were callin' 'em "piss", but they weren't moving any units.
  • Irony: Jan, who's a vegetarian, dates (and later marries) Victor the meat cutter. Paul seems very bitter about this.
  • It's All My Fault: Sharon is afraid it's her fault Tommy is cheating on her, that she's not good enough compared to Darian.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Invoked by Marty, who wishes that Willie will wait until she turns 18 so that they can "walk through this world together." Earlier, Willie also considers doing this himself.
  • Local Hangout: The Johnson Inn, run by Stinky and his brother Frank.
  • Meaningful Echo: In anger over the fact Jan has dumped him, Paul blocks up her driveway with snow twice. Near the end of the movie, after the Roaring Rampage of Revenge towards Steve for his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Tommy is interrupted when Mo sees Steve's young daughter and thinks better of it, a tearful Paul clears the snow out of the driveway.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A slight variation:
    Tommy: Paul is not my friend, he lives in my house. I got cockroaches, I got termites...I got Paul.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tommy's reaction when he sees Paul bought a champagne-colored engagement ring for Jan:
    Tommy: How much you pay for this brown rock?
    Paul: What difference does it make?
    Tommy: Diamonds are supposed to be colorless! You go out and buy a colored diamond for a girl you're not even seeing, man, you must be eating retard sandwiches again.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Steve and his friends deliver one to Tommy because of Tommy sleeping with Darian, Steve's wife.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone's reactions when Darian shows up at Tommy's surprise birthday party. Even Tommy doesn't look happy.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Only Andera calls her cousin "Stanley"; everyone else still remembers him as Stinky. He protests at first, but gives up.
    • Also, only Sarah calls Mo "Michael".
  • Precocious Crush: Marty towards Willie. Willie thinks he returns her feelings, but eventually snaps out of it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gina delivers an epic tirade to Tommy and Willie about the fact that All Men Are Perverts:
    Gina: I'm finished speaking to both of you okay? You're both fucking insane. You want to know what your problem is? MTV, Playboy, and Madison fucking Avenue. Yes. Let me explain something to you, ok? Girls with big tits have big asses. Girls with little tits have little asses. That's the way it goes. God doesn't fuck around; he's a fair guy. He gave the fatties big, beautiful tits and the skinnies little tiny niddlers. It's not my rule. If you don't like it, call him...Oh, guys, look what we have here. Look at this, your favorite. Oh, you like that?
    Tommy: I could go along with that.
    Gina: Yeah, that's nice right? Well, it doesn't exist, okay? Look at the hair. The hair is long, it's flowing, it's like a river. Well, it's a fucking weave, okay? And the tits, please! I could hang my overcoat on them. Tits by design were invented to be suckled by babies. Yes, they're purely functional. These are silicon city. And look, my favorite, the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being too unruly and all. Very key. This is a mockery, this is a sham, this is bullshit. Implants, collagen, plastic, capped teeth, the fat sucked out, the hair extended, the nose fixed, the bush shaved...These are not real women, all right? They're beauty freaks. And they make all us normal women with our wrinkles, our puckered boobs, hi bob, and our cellulite feel somehow inadequate. Well I don't buy it, all right? But you fucking mooks, if you think that if there's a chance in hell that you'll end up with one of these women, you don't give us real women anything approaching a commitment. It's pathetic. I don't know what you think you're going to do. You're going to end up eighty-years old, drooling in some nursing home, then you're going to decide, it's time to settle down, get married, have kids? What, are you going to find a cheerleader?
    Tommy: I think you're oversimplifying.
    Gina: Oh eat me. Look at Paul. With his models on the wall, his dog named Elle McPherson. He's insane. He's obsessed. You're all obsessed. If you had an ounce of self-esteem, of self-worth, of self-confidence, you would realize that as trite as it may sound, beauty is truly skin-deep. And you know what, if you ever did hook one of those girls, I guarantee you'd be sick of her.
    Tommy: Yeah, I suppose I'd get sick of her after about, what, twenty or thirty years?
    Gina: Get over yourself...No mater how perfect the nipple, how supple the thigh, unless there is some other shit going on in the relationship, besides the physical, it's going to get old, okay? And you guys, as a gender, have got to get a grip. Otherwise, the future of the human race is in jeopardy.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mo, Willie and Paul intend to do this on Steve and his friends in reaction to the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown described above, but it's ultimately averted. As Mo is about to punch Steve, he sees Steve's young daughter watching them, and thinks better of it.
  • Shout-Out: Marty and Willie have a conversation referencing The Wizard of Oz, Lou Reed, Romeo and Juliet, and Winnie the Pooh. Lampshaded by Marty when she says, "No literary reference left unturned."
    • Paul also references The Wizard Of Oz when he wonders if Willie, figuratively speaking, let Andera behind the curtain to see what men really are like.
    • At the end, when Paul and Marty meet, he greets her as "the neighborhood Lolita." Earlier, Willie compares himself to Humbert Humbert.
    • Mo in turn compares Willie to Roman Polański, while Paul calls him "Jerry Lee Lewis" because of the situation with Marty.
    • When Willie asks what kids Marty's age do, she jokes that she and her friends get stoned and listen to Pink Floyd.
  • Squee: The reaction of Willie's father and brother towards Tracy is a subdued version of this. It has probably been a long time since there was a woman in their family.
  • The Stoic: Willie's father. When he comes home after many years away, the old man's way of showing affection is simply to invite his son to watch golf on TV with him. It's implied that he has been this way since his wife died.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Marty.
    Willie: How old are you?
    Marty: Thirteen. But I'm an old soul.