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Film / Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

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Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is a 1997 Buddy Picture comedy directed by David Mirkin, starring Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.

Romy White (Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Kudrow), two slacker friends now living in Los Angeles, decide to attend their High School Reunion in Tucson. In order to prove their classmates — who'd dismissed them as bimbos and losers — wrong, they pretend to be successful business women. Hilarity Ensues.

Something of a '90s Cult Classic, it also stars Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, Camryn Manheim, Julia Campbell, Vincent Ventresca and Justin Theroux.

A prequel Made-for-TV Movie entitled Romy and Michele: In the Beginning aired on ABC Family in 2005 starring Katherine Heigl as Romy and Alexandra Breckenridge as Michele.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Lisa Luder.
  • All Just a Dream: About a quarter of the movie. Romy and Michele meet up with Billy and Sandy at the high school reunion and get married to them, living happy lives, but still in a bitter dispute with each other; Michele impresses Christie with a brief technical rundown of how to make glue.
  • Alpha Bitch: Christie, even years after high school.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Averted. The light-hearted comedy has no sex, nudity, or violence but got slapped with an R rating because it had too many bad words. The filmmakers refused to change the dialogue and kept the rating. Lisa Kudrow criticized the MPAA for their decision while promoting the film, and when released in the UK some of the F-words were removed to get a 12 rating for the theatrical release.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. The characters who are happy and fulfilled are all bachelors and bachelorettes who focused on their careers. Christie, (what's left) of her clique and their husbands have devoted themselves to being parents, but they've achieved very little outside of that. Christie and Billy have marital problems and her friends secretly doubt themselves.
  • Be Yourself: An In-Universe version, when Michele tells Romy she didn't want to pretend anything, and just be who they were. They try it, and the reunion goes better for them.
  • The Chain of Harm: Heather is surprised to learn that the protagonists, who she'd resented at school, were in turn looked down on by the "A group". She's delighted to learn that she herself had consistently made another girl at school feel miserable.
  • Character Catchphrase: Heather telling Toby "Fuck off!".
  • Class Reunion: Duh.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each member of the A Group has her own signature color, to the point of each of their cocktails matching their suits in Michele’s dream sequence. At the reunion itself, all of their dresses are in their signature color, but faded, to signify their fading relevance in the class. Lisa Luder on the other hand wears a pure white suit, signifying her fresh start as her own person.
  • Conversational Troping: The movie opens with Romy and Michele watching Pretty Woman and commenting on one of the Tear Jerker scenes. They are also rather Genre Savvy about their own genre: High School movies and comedy movies in general.
  • Costume Porn: Romy and Michele’s glitzy 90’s wardrobe.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Romy and Michele's claim to be "successful businesswomen" lacks a few vital details; such as what business they are in.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover depicts the girls' party dresses the wrong colour. Romy wears fuchsia and Michele wears purple on the cover. In the movie, Romy wears blue and Michele wears light pink.
  • Cult Soundtrack: Although the film takes place in 1997, the flashbacks and overall focus on reminiscing about high school scores it a soundtrack largely comprised of '80s pop classics. Deliberately invoked by Romy when she makes a mixtape of nostalgic songs to listen to on the drive to the reunion.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As usual, Janeane Garofalo's character.
  • Distant Finale: Parodied and subverted. After the dream reunion, the film cuts to seventy years later where Romy and Michele are still not speaking to each other. Michele then wakes up.
  • Dumb Blonde: Dumb but loveable Romy and Michele (the latter more so). Hell, the Tag Line for this film is "The Blonde Leading The Blonde."
  • The '80s: The flashbacks to high school, replete with heavy examples of...
  • '80s Hair: Romy and Michele in particular were into experimental, Madonna-inspired 'dos (although one of the 'dos came from Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition tour). Romy accidentally whips Michele multiple times with her three-foot-long bleached-blonde top-of-the-head ponytail while twirling at the prom.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Christie grabs and eats Romy's hamburger at lunch in high school to humiliate her.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: A magazine spread with models posing as CEOs gives Romy the idea to pretend to be successful businesswomen for the reunion.
  • Fanservice: Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow in oft-form fitting clothes? Hell yeah!
  • Feigning Intelligence: The protagonists try to pass themselves off as inventors of the Post-It doesn't work out so well.
  • Fiction 500: Sandy has become such a successful and wealthy guy that he has houses in Aspen and Acapulco, a mansion in Malibu, a penthouse in New York, a yacht, a Bentley, a personal trainer, a full-time chef, a masseuse, and a staff of 24.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Michele's pink dress is trimmed with pink feathers, as is her blue jacket in the first nightclub scene.
  • Foreshadowing: Teenage!Lisa tentatively expressing approval for Romy and Michele's Madonna-esque fashion stylings in high school (even if she then qualifies it under Christie's withering stare). Years later, at the reunion, Lisa is a fashion editor and very much more confident about her own opinion.
    • Also Michele’s dream where Sandy is a multi-millionaire and she starts to see something in him.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Lisa Luder, by the time of the reunion.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Romy and Michele inexplicably live in a spacious apartment steps away from the Venice Beach boardwalk, which is one of the most expensive parts of Los Angeles, when one of them is a cashier and the other is unemployed.
  • Future Loser:
    • Billy Christiansen takes the gold: going from popular hunky jock dating the popular girl in school, to a slobby failure who nails drywall for a living and whose wife is pregnant with (he suspects) another man's kid. And he still thinks he can bed Romy since she had a thing for him back in the day, even though the last time they saw each other he publicly humiliated her for a laugh.
    • Christie deserves a mention too. She carried on her spiteful Alpha Bitch ways 10 years beyond high school, retaining her Girl Posse who copy her every move, so she never grew out of her teenage bullying - but the reunion reveals her life is a pathetic shell of her past glories. She's an unfulfilled housewife with an unhappy marriage to an unfaithful sleazy loser whom she also might be cheating on, her only outlet in life is having baby after baby (which she pretends to be thrilled about), she never got the career she wanted...and to add insult to injury, all the people she tormented in high school are happy and fulfilled (if not quite as successful as Sandy) and the minion she used to boss around has a high flying career in fashion.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Romy and Toby. Also, Michele's love interest Sandy.
  • Girl Posse: Christie, Cheryl, Kelly, and Lisa. Lisa, however, left the group and made a name for herself as the associate editor of Vogue, while Christie, Cheryl, and Kelly were content to be married, with children, and pregnant.
  • Happily Married: Christie and Billy. Except not; when Romy and Michele encounter Billy — now an overweight alcoholic — outside of the reunion, he reveals that the "successful real estate development career" that Christie had touted him as having consists of nothing more than laying drywall for Christie's father's construction company, and that he doubts that the baby that Christie's carrying is actually his. He then propositions Romy for sex; she tells him to go wait for her in his hotel room naked, which he does eagerly, but she instead leaves with Michele and Sandy in Sandy's helicopter, having gotten revenge for a similar prank Billy and Christie played on her in high school.
  • Hates Small Talk: Clarence the Cowboy just wants go somewhere quiet and talk to Heather. They're necking three minutes later.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Sandy Frink, having become a suave billionaire. Applies both in Michele's dream, where he's had plastic surgery, and in real life, where he's simply dressed sharply, has a slick haircut, and is much more confident and assertive..
    • Applies to Heather Mooney as well: she goes from being an insecure, shaggy-haired Goth outcast with dowdy clothes to looking like, well, Janeane Garofalo in a sharp black dress.
    • Romy and Michele also deserve mentions. In high school, Michele had frizzy hair and a Scoliosis brace and Romy was overweight (according to her former classmates, which is odd because in school Romy was actually quite thin). They also had quirky senses of fashion and wore outfits based on two of Madonna’s outfits. 10 years later the pair are attractive, happy and enjoy their lives.
    • Subverted with Christie Masters and Billy Christianson. Christie was a wealthy, popular and beautiful Cheerleader in High School, and leader of the A-group. Billy was a tall, muscular and handsome athlete dating Christie, who Romy was madly in love with. They both were cruel bullies; Christie and her friends regularly bullied Michele and Romy (as well as various other students) for no reason, and at prom Billy manipulated Romy into thinking he’d dance with her, which Christie helped with. As adults, they have dedicated their lives to their children, but haven’t achieved much else. Christie is a housewife with two children (pregnant with a third) who hasn’t achieved her dream of becoming an Anchor woman, and is possibly unfaithful to her husband. Billy also works an under-paying job for Christie’s father, and is an overweight alcoholic.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Romy and Michele to a T.
  • High-Powered Career Woman: Michele and Romy parody this trope in their pretense that they invented Post-It notes, wearing black power dresses with matching jackets and Power Hair. Lisa is an authentic version (as editor of Vogue, wearing an actual white suit).
  • High School: "Well, duh!"
  • High-School Rejects: Romy and Michele learn that the former Alpha Bitch Christy is an unhappy stay-at-home mom with two kids (and a third on the way) while her husband Billy—the former Jerk Jock captain of the football team—is an overweight loser working installing drywall for Christy's father. It’s implied that the rest of Christy's Girl Posse (apart from Lisa) are in similar situations.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A short chain of humorous hypocrisy occurs at prom: Michele encourages Romy to ask Billy to dance, reasoning that no one would turn down a dance at senior prom since it might be the last time any of them sees each other for years. Sandy then asks Michele to dance using this exact same appeal and she flatly refuses him... Then Heather offers to dance with Sandy and he rebuffs her.
  • Informed Judaism: Michele.
  • Invention Pretension: The eponymous characters try to compensate for their lack of achievement by claiming at the eponymous reunion that they invented Post-Its.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Michele claims she invented Post-It Notes; (it's a lie to try to impress her old high school classmates). Sandy invents some kind of special rubber that's put on tennis shoes which makes him very successful, and Heather invents cigarette paper that burns twice as fast, which also makes her quite successful (with her buying a Jaguar as a hint to her success).
  • Jerk Jock: Billy Christiansen, in that his Dumb Jock qualities and loyalty to Christie allow her to provoke him into being as cruel as she is.
  • Kissing Cousins: Michele lost her virginity to her cousin Barry.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: The downdraft from Sandy's helicopter gives Christine a very impressive one as the heroines leave, and she doesn't manage to get her dress to stay down.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: An interpretive dance between three people as an act of rebellion in their high school reunion, and then taking off in a helicopter.
  • My Nayme Is: One 'L' in Michele, people.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Heather was "very much in love" with Sandy Frink in high school, but her years-old feelings for him finally dissolve at the reunion when she sees how slick and well-groomed he's become.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Michele switches to a pink dress at the reunion.
  • Popular Is Evil: All the cool kids Romy and Michele went to high school with were cruel to them, due to Romy being overweight and Michele having a back brace. Christie and her Girl Posse mocked and humiliated the girls, and Billy Christianson stood Romy up at prom, promising her a final dance and then running off with Christie.
  • Precision F-Strike: The "flying" variety is memorably used by Romy in her takedown of Christie.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Romy to Christie.
    Romy: What the hell is your problem, Christie? Why are you always such a nasty bitch? I mean, okay, so Michele and I did make up some stupid lie! We only did it because we wanted you to treat us like human beings. But you know what I realized? I don't care if you like us, 'cause we don't like you. You're a bad person with an ugly heart, and we don't give a flying fuck what you think!
  • Rebel Relaxation: The Cowboy.
  • Right Through the Wall: Romy gets to borrow the Cool Car in return for closing the office blinds and faking The Immodest Orgasm with the mechanic so his colleagues can hear.
  • Rousing Speech: When Romy loses all her confidence at the reunion, it's easygoing Michele who delivers one of these, to their mutual surprise:
    Michele: Romy, can I tell you the truth? I never knew that we weren't that great in high school. I mean, we always had so much fun together...I thought high school was a blast! And until you told me that our lives weren't good enough, I thought everything since high school was a blast. I think we should go back out there as ourselves, and just have fun like we always do. The hell with everyone else!
    Romy: I don't think I can.
    Michele: [smiling, but clearly exasperated] Well, do you think you can stop being such a baby? God! I feel like I've been, like, chasing you all over this reunion. We have come all this way, now we are going to enjoy ourselves whether you like it or not!
    Romy: [startled] God, Michele...I've never seen this side of your personality before. You're so bossy and domineering. I like it!
    Michele: [grinning] Me too!
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Christie Masters-Christiansen.
  • Scully Box: Sandy Frink does this to himself in the film, wearing elevator shoes that appear to add at least three inches to his height. One wonders why, given that Alan Cumming is already an above-average 5'10" and his hairstyle adds another two inches.invoked
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Michele comes up with a Technobabble explanation for her invention of "a special kind of glue" which is so plausible and off-the-cuff that she even surprises herself. Shame it was All Just a Dream.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Since Mira Sorvino was dating Quentin Tarantino at the time the movie was made, production designer Mayne Berke decided to put in a Red Apple cigarette billboard and a Big Kahuna Burger bag as a reference. (It's not clear if this means this film is actually set in the same continuity as any of his films, though.)
    • Sorvino also suggested the Starfleet insignia for her dress, as she's a lifelong Star Trek fan, and Romy was equally geeky.
  • Simpleton Voice: Romy has one that unlike most female examples, is low-pitched, but still conveys she's a slow thinker. (Mira Sorvino stated she based it on her sister.)
  • The Slacker: Rare female example.
  • Status Cell Phone: Romy and Michele get a flip-phone to help complete the image of being successful businesswomen.
  • Techno Babble: A variant, in that the glue formula which Michele talks about is scientific sound, but has nothing to do with Post-It adhesives, as the actual inventor who contributed it admitted is "something you would use to repair your broken dining room chair".
  • Threesome Subtext: Sandy still has a crush on Michele, but doesn't bat an eyelid at her insistence that Romy dance with them as well. At the end, all three of them leave the reunion in his helicopter.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Heather Mooney to both Romy and Michele. Between the friends themselves, Romy is more determined, savvy, and assertive, making her a Tomboy to ditzy, easygoing Michele's Girly Girl.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Lisa Luder, by the time of the reunion. She is genuinely impressed by the lines and use of color in Romy and Michele's homemade club dresses, and tells Christie to let Cheryl and Kelly express their own opinions when Christie insists that "they" still think the dresses are hideous.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” When we first hear it, Michele comforts Romy on the dance floor at prom after Billy stands her up. Next time we hear it it’s at the reunion when Romy, Michele, and Sandy have their big dance number that’s cheered by the crowd.
  • True Blue Femininity: Romy switches to a blue dress at the reunion.
  • Valley Girl: Very much so, aside from the fact that they aren't wealthy.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Michele and Sandy, Billy and Christie.
  • Video Phone: Appears in the the future dream sequence, where Romy and Michele continue their argument with each other from their high school reunion into old age.
  • You're Just Jealous / You Keep Telling Yourself That: In the conversation between the Alpha Bitch and a former member of the Girl Posse:
    Christie: You're just jealous. Because unlike a certain ball-busting dried up career woman, I might mention, we're all HAPPILY MARRIED!
    Lisa Luder: That's right, Christie. Keep telling yourself that.

Romy and Michele: In the Beginning provides examples of:


Video Example(s):


Romy reunites with Billy

Billy Christianson, a once-popular jock and the object of Romy’s affections is now a drunk, slobbery loser trapped in an unfaithful marriage with Chrissy and works at a dead-end job at her father’s construction company. He then tries to seduce Romy, and she pranks him in a similar way he did to her during prom.

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5 (8 votes)

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