A 1995 film about four girls growing up in Shelby, Indiana. The bulk of the story takes place in a flashback to 1970 when the girls were 12, and is told from a single point of view.
A family-friendly edition was also released on VHS (as a part of the New Line Home Video Family Line series) and also DVD. There are no plans for a Blu-ray release (as Warner Home Video backed out of the licensing deal with Mill Creek Entertainment).
The film includes the main characters both as 12-year-olds and as adults. Casting different actors.
- Samantha Albertson. In youth played by Gaby Hoffmann, in adulthood by Demi Moore.
- Chrissy De Witt. In youth played by Ashleigh Aston Moore, in adulthood by Rita Wilson (who often appeared in Raise Your Voice and Runaway Bride).
- Roberta Martin. In youth played by Christina Ricci, in adulthood by Rosie O'Donnell.
- Tina "Teeny" Tercell. In youth played by Thora Birch, in adulthood by Melanie Griffith.
Written by I. Marlene King, who later developed another, very different story about four female friends, as well as Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan (as a Gender-flipped, Freaky Friday (2003)-ified movie).
This film contains examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Played with; the girls' parents aren't monsters, but they're not exactly model parents. (Although it can be argued that, at the very least, Chrissy's mom's prudery is justified by the generation she grew up in (most likely the late 1940s/early '50s).
- Samantha: My parents had been fighting for as long as I could remember. Never really bothered me though, quite the opposite in fact. It was comfort, and consistency.
- Babies Ever After: Chrissy and Morton.
- Beware the Nice Ones: One of Roberta's coping mechanisms in dealing with her mother's death is trying to make death funny by faking her own. While on the way to Greenfield, the girls stop for a swim at a lake and Roberta fakes drowning, which Chrissy smacks her for. Do not fake your death in front of Chrissy. She's got a hell of a right hook.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Teeny is blonde, Sam and Roberta are brunettes, and Chrissy has auburn hair.
- Book-Ends: The story begins and ends with a game of "Red Rover".
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Samantha: The Treehouse was supposed to bring us more independence, but what the summer actually brought us was independence from each other.
- Deadpan Snarker: Roberta and Samantha had shades of this.
- Disappeared Dad: Samantha's father walks out on the family. This is especially significant because of the time period ("I decided not to tell the others about my father. Call me a fool but I actually thought he'd be back, a wishful notion I held on to for years. At the time, no one in the Gaslight Addition had ever gotten a divorce, and the last thing I wanted was to be different from my friends.")
- Chrissy's and Teeny's fathers are absent for respectively unspoken reasons or because of neglect.
- Distaff Counterpart: The whole movie to Stand by Me, except no one dies.
- Fish out of Water: How Sam feels coming back to her childhood home of Shelby, Indiana.
- Samantha: Thomas Wolfe once said, "You can't go home again". That might be good for old Tom, but he wasn't a chick who made a pact with her friends when she was twelve to get together when any of them needed each other. So here I am, driving back to my childhood home in Indiana, a place I can say I never wanted to see again.
- Four-Girl Ensemble: Chrissy is the sweet naïve one, Teeny the fashionista, Roberta the tomboy and Samantha is the omniscient narrator.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
Roberta: (crying) 'My dad lied to me, he told me this beautiful angel swooped down to earth and he carried her away, before she had a second to feel any pain.' In reality, Roberta's mother suffered horrible injuries in the crash and lingered in agony before dying the following night.
- The Cynic: Sam (she changes in the end though)
- The Optimist: Teeny
- The Realist: Chrissy
- The Apathetic/Conflicted: Roberta, before and after she finds the article about her mother's accident in comparison to the softer version of the story her father told her.
- Girliness Upgrade: After Roberta's first kiss.
- Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: The girls' revenge ploy on the bullying Wormer boys.
- Growing Up Sucks
- Hypocritical Humor: In the adult scenes, Chrissy repeatedly orders her friends not to swear around her unborn baby (she even thinks "breast" is a dirty word). Towards the end of the movie, she again tells Sam not to do this. The scene cuts to Chrissy in the delivery room, having a very painful contraction, and screaming, "SHIT!" at the top of her lungs.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Scott Wormer.
- MacGuffin: Crazy Pete, an elderly man from the neighborhood whose name in the community derives from the fact that he only comes out at night. At the end of the film, he is revealed to be Dear Johnny's father, and his only coming out at night is his coping mechanism in dealing with the grief over the loss of his family even 25 years later. Evidently, he'd been out at a bar the night the murders took place, and the guilt over not being there to protect his wife and son led to him being unable to face people, or even himself. The girls apparently befriended him in the following years, although until the present sequence only Samantha knew he was Dear Johnny's father. Teeny mentioned that after moving to California she'd send him a bit of cash every year, but the previous year it had been returned, after which Roberta informed her that he had died.
- Crazy Pete: Samantha, things are going to happen in your life that you can't stop. But that's no reason to shut out the world. There's always a reason for the good and the bad.
- Miss Conception: Played straight with Chrissy's mother. Cleverly subverted in this exchange of dialogue:Teeny: Have you ever been french kissed?Chrissy: Are you kidding? I don't want to get pregnant.Roberta: You can't get pregnant from kissing.Chrissy: I know that, beetle brain. But, it's common knowledge, if you tongue kiss a boy, he automatically thinks you'll do the deed with him. It's the male curse.
- Missing Mom: Roberta's mother died in a car accident when she was 4.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Crazy Pete saves Samantha from a storm drain she'd crawled into to retrieve a bracelet.
- Naïve Everygirl: Chrissy has shades of this.
- Newspaper Backstory: While at the Greenfield library looking through archived newspapers, Roberta learns the full (and brutal) truth previously unknown to her regarding her mother's death when she comes across an article covering the car accident which claimed her mother's life. This is repeated later on when Samantha comes across her late grandfather's scrapbooks containing newspaper accounts of Dear Johnny's death, explaining that he along with his mother were both murdered in a robbery gone wrong.
- Parent with New Paramour: Samantha's mother begins wearing more flirtatious outfits while out about town, foreshadowing the imminent breakup of her troubled marriage. Samantha is understandably Not Pleased.
- Parental Neglect: Teeny's parents leave her alone a lot, going to the Country Club or hosting parties.
- Teeny: I don't really know my parents. As far as I'm concerned, they're assholes.
- Raised by Dudes: Roberta's tomboy persona is attributed to growing up the only girl in a family consisting of her widowed father and three older brothers.
- Screaming Birth: Chrissy, near the end of the film.
- Skinny Dipping: The Wormer boys at one point do this, and the girls catch them in the act, leading to Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen (see above).
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Roberta and Scott Wormer.
- Roberta: Scott...Scott: Yeah?Roberta: If you mention this to anyone, especially your brothers, I'll beat the shit out of you.
- The Talk: Chrissy's mother gives her 'the talk' by using a potted flower as a metaphor, which later on results in Chrissy as an adult developing an obsession with gardening. ("Planting the seed, watering the flower")
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Roberta and Chrissy.
- Town Girls: There are four main characters, but they still fit. Glitzy, fashion-obsessed Teeny and prim, pink-loving Chrissy are the Femmes, rough-and-tumble, sports-loving Tomboy Roberta is the Butch, and snarky Bookworm Sam is the Neither.
- Water Guns and Balloons: Early on in the film, the Wormers attack them with jello-filled balloons.