30 June 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: High School Reunion

I went to my high school class' ten-year reunion, and I probably won't go back to the next one. That's all I'll say. Too many memories I don't want to relive were relived. I like the idealized version of high school in my head way better. Anyway, few subjects lend themselves to great comedy like the high school reunion. (If mine had been filmed, you would certainly have laughed.) And there are so many to choose from.

I struggled last week. This week, I'm flush with picks. I just made a list off the top of my head of about 10 movies. I had to work to whittle this down, and I still left out one of my favorites...that I'll mention now...the 1997 John Cusack comedy Grosse Pointe Blank. I freakin' love it! But it doesn't have the WOW! factor of my other picks. And the connections between by three picks are weird. Just saying...

So, it's Thursday. Another one as part of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This week, we're going back to high school as adults...sort of.

Here are my picks:

Peggy Sue Got Married
dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1986

Peggy Sue Got Married is one of those movies my Mom used to nurture my budding fascination with movies as a kid. This is one, according her, that I had to see. And it was great. And it has lasted. And I really want to re-watch it now. It's been years. The title character, played by Kathleen Turner, attends her 25th reunion on the heels of recent separation from her husband (and high school sweetheart) Charlie (Nicolas Cage). When it all comes down on her that fateful night, she passes out and finds herself transported to 1960, her senior year, where she gets a chance to try it all again. Just a genius comedy with a lot to say about aging and the choices we made getting there.

Something Wild
dir. Jonathan Demme, 1986

Released less than a month after my first pick, Jonathan Demme's Something Wild is easily one of the coolest road movies ever made. That soundtrack is fucking unreal! When you run Talking Heads over the titles, you've got a hit as far as I'm concerned. Jeff Daniels plays Charlie, a stuffed shirt type recently dumped by his wife. Melanie Griffith plays the brunette Lulu (among other names and hairstyles), a free-spirit who catches Charlie running out on his check at a diner. The start a journey together that will lead to Lulu's high school reunion, where her ex (Ray Liotta), an unsavory type, comes to get her back. It's a truly unconventional romantic comedy and is now on a beautifully restored Criterion Collection Blu-Ray.

Beautiful Girls
dir. Ted Demme, 1996

Made by the nephew of Jonathan Demme, here is the magnum opus of high school reunion movies. It is in my Top Ten Movies of All-Time...for real. I could watch it every single day and never tire of it. Tim Hutton plays Willy, a lounge pianist living in New York who returns home to small town Massachusetts for a wintry reunion with his graduating class. Most of the film plays out like every single holiday visit I made home during college. My old friends from high school and I just drinking...a lot, making grand statements on life and especially the beautiful women in our lives. The script, written by Scott Rosenberg, feels overwritten sometimes, but the dialogue is so fun to listen to. Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, and Michael Rapaport all know how to sell it, especially Rapaport, who delivers a monologue about models that is one of the greatest things ever written in the English language...period. The cast is rounded out by the title characters themselves, other than the Rapaport's models, of course, and are played by Mira Sorvino, Martha Plimpton, Lauren Holly, Uma Thurman, Rosie O'Donnell, and a young Natalie Portman, who is incredible as a wise 13-year-old who casts a certain spell on Hutton's Willy.

I think I picked this one for something else last year, so I'll retire it now from these picks. But, please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD, SEE THIS MOVIE!!

Honorable Mention

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
dir. Kevin Smith, 2008

This movie is not about a high school reunion (see: title), but there is one particular scene at a ten-year reunion, one of the more surprising cameo scenes maybe ever. It features the under-appreciated Justin Long as a gay porn star with a voice that could melt butter. Seriously...hilarious. 


  1. I went with Zack and Miri because, well for starters, I haven't seen any of your other picks. Really enjoyed Z&M, though.

    1. It's great! I love all of Kevin Smith's movies. Not ashamed either.

  2. I went with Zack and Miri too because I haven't seen any of these other ones. lol

    1. Haha! It's a good pick. Obviously a memorable scene.

  3. I LOVE Peggy Sue Got Married!! Such a sweet film full of sharp observances and a killer performance by Kathleen Turner. She's so perfect that it seems strange that she wasn't Coppola's first choice. Debra Winger had signed for it but had to drop out when she discovered she was pregnant, I can see her in the part so it would have still been a good film but Turner is simply great. She's surrounded by an amazing cast all adding brilliant bits, even the small roles of Peggy Sue's family are ideally cast.

    Something Wild is one I haven't thought of in years. A strange movie but I liked it, what the hell happened to Melanie Griffith? Ray Liotta cornered that sleazy jerk role for a few years in the 80's.

    I recently watched Beautiful Girls. I liked it well enough but nowhere near your level. Still a great cast, I thought Hutton, who I find variable anyway-he can be brilliant or he can be a twitchy mess, was the weakest link.

    Zack & Miri was a one and done for me. It was funny in parts but its crudeness detracted from my overall enjoyment of the film.

    Funny that you had to trim from a long list while I had to cast around to come up with enough. I just blanked after my first two, except for Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion which I figured would be everywhere so I didn't want to use it, and went to a hunt for something new which went badly (look at my extra) and then remembered a documentary that would work.

    Lifeguard (1976)-Lifeguard Rick Carlson (Sam Elliott) loves his work and his laid back Southern California life. But when he attends his 15 year high school reunion he starts to feel he is stuck in a rut. Restarting a romance with his school sweetheart Cathy (Anne Archer), now a divorced mother of a young son, he becomes even more confused about his future.

    Prodigal Sons (2008)-Fascinating documentary by Kimberly Reed who returns home for her high school reunion to an uncertain reception…when she left town years earlier she was a man. Looks equally at her interaction with her former classmates and her estranged family, her adopted brother, who has been permanently disabled in a car accident, has a surprise of his own-his birth mother was the daughter of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth! At times very sad but always interesting.

    Spring Reunion (1957)-Returning to his hometown to sell his house one-time “Most Likely to Succeed” footloose wanderer Fred Davis (Dana Andrews) has no intention of attending his upcoming 15th year reunion until he runs into successful but lonely real estate agent and the “Most Popular Girl” Maggie Brewster (Betty Hutton), his former girlfriend. As they take tentative steps towards each other their different perspectives might ruin their chance for happiness before they are even sure they have one. Subdued meditation on failed dreams was the troubled Hutton’s last feature film as well as one time silent movie queen Laura La Plante’s final bow, she plays Betty’s mother.

    Dishonorable Mention- Back in the Day (2014)-Moderately successful actor Jim Owens (Michael Rosenbaum) returns to Indiana for a high-school reunion. During the course of the time he’s home he acts like an idiot and so do most of his friends doing stupid and outlandish things. I watched this specifically because it seemingly fit this week’s theme so well but it was so moronic I had to list it with a caution and look for another actually good movie.

    1. All of your picks sound great, particularly that documentary. Too bad you got stuck with a crap one though in preparing for this theme.

      I honestly think Debra Winger too would've been great, but, you're right, Turner shines and really carries the film. I have no clue where Melanie Griffith is. Her daughter's making a name right now though. That's for sure. But I totally recommend a Something Wild re-watch. It's as weird as you remember. I love it.

  4. I also picked Peggy Sue Got Married but have not seen your other ones (I also picked Grosse pointe Blank). I had real trouble this week as this is not my favourite to watch and I realized how little of this theme I have actually seen.

    1. Yeah. Some themes are stronger than others. I liked this one.

  5. It has to be like the millionth time I write "I haven't seen any of these" today. Something Wild sounds cool, I'll add it on my watchlist.

  6. I haven't seen Peggy Sue Got Married, Something Wild (although I do have the Criterion Blu-ray), or Grosse Pointe Blank (I know, shame on me. I mean, it takes place in Michigan, in a city that's probably 15 minutes away from me, & it's a great city. It's right by Lake St. Clair, & the view is excellent if you're near the lake. But I digress…)

    I haven't watched Beautiful Girls since January. I remember you picked it back in January for non-Christmas winter movies, I believe that's what it was. That's what got me interested in it. I thought it was an excellent movie, & it's definitely in my top 50 movies of all time. I need to re-watch it.

    I haven't watched Zack & Miri in almost a year. But since it was made by Kevin Smith, I automatically liked it. It was hilarious. Craig Robinson's character was the funniest in my opinion. (I know this sounds odd, but Kevin Smith is the reason why I like movies so much. I watched Clerks 2 on Friday, May 9, 2014, & that led me to watch his other movies, then that led me to watch a lot of other indie movies, then I kept watching more & more, & that brings us to now. So… in a nutshell… Clerks 2 started my love of movies. But I digress…)

    The only pick I have for this category (since my other picks weren't high school reunions, instead college reunions) is American Reunion. Absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed that hard at a movie in a while.

    1. Nothing wrong with loving Kevin Smith. He changed my life as well at one point. Love all of his movies, even Cop Out. And you've got a way better memory than me. Can't believe you remembered the theme I picked Beautiful Girls for. I couldn't think of it at all. Haha! Glad you watched it.

      I loved American Reunion. In fact, I love all of the original American Pie movies.

    2. I liked Cop Out too. I think the reason it wasn't as good as his other movies was because he didn't write the script for it, & I think if he wrote the script for it, it would've been better.

      And not to brag, but I've been told many times before I have that I have an excellent memory. I have a knacl for remembering dates & what happened on certain days.

  7. I am still yet to finish Peggy Sue - I was always interrupted or it was cut off (in the days of taping in VHS) I will get to see it.

    Something Wild sounds awesome!

  8. ...I haven't seen any of these and I kind of hate myself for it.

    1. It's okay, man. Peggy Sue Got Married, though. Definitely get on that one. I really think you would love it.