apocalypse chelsea: day five

as the days roll on, i am starting to get a clearer picture of just who chelsea is.

day five:

today had a definite theme and that theme was true friendship served with a side of janeane garofalo in a bad haircut.

first up today we have romy and michele's high school reunion (1997).

i suppose another theme with today's offerings would be "universal" experiences that i just cannot relate to at all. was high school really that bad for all of you? i will just never get this one. i can understand it maybe being a little confusing as a kid, when you're trying to figure it out. those "scars" being so readily accessible now that you're not a child, though? jesus, as much as this theme is a part of our cultural currency, it's a wonder anyone can function within one hundred yards of a blackboard. apparently, we are a nation so traumatized by the experience that it haunts our collective consciousness. guess what? turns out, it was just high school. you're welcome. no need for the sound of a locker door slamming to reduce you to a fetal position anymore. take back the night!

as for the film itself, it's essentially a funnier, more feminine counterpart to dumb and dumber (1994). not a lot funnier, necessarily, but at least a little. to my surprise, there were a number of things i enjoyed about the film. the chemistry between mira sorvino and lisa kudrow is good. their loopy devotion to each other is endearing and there are moments where each comes to the other's defense that belies their state of perpetual naiveté. the physical comedy nails it more than once, in particular when lisa kudrow is hit by a stretch limo, the whole thing, and a spectacularly absurd spotlight dance. what was most surprising, though, was how technically sophisticated the camera work was. the opening shot is one uninterrupted take that flies in over the ocean, zooms in on their apartment building, goes through the window, pans around the room and then recedes, introducing our two leads in a fairly ambitious manner. it will never be confused for touch of evil (1958) but it's a damn sight more impressive than any other ditzcore i've ever seen. and it continues throughout the film - a clever dissolve from club scene to daily grind, helicopters, crane shots. some of it works and some of it doesn't but cheers to david mirkin for not making something static and visually pedestrian when it would have been the easy thing to do. i don't know that i'd watch it again, but i'm glad i saw it.

next up - now and then (1995).

these girls are alright. don't blame them because i generally don't like coming of age stories. again, i just don't relate to most of them. i just don't share a lot of the common experiences, and reactions to those experiences, that so many people apparently do. don't get me wrong. i have seen good ones, just never any that i thought had anything to do with me.

again, through lines all over the place today, as this one also has a male counterpart in a relative minor key - stand by me (1986). a pivotal summer long past, a dark/mysterious turn of events, the first signs of "it's not going to be like this forever" that come with the onset of young adulthood. unfortunately, the girls get the short end of the deal this time precisely because of the other reason i hate coming of age stories. they're so condensed and artificial, so many monumental events to squeeze in and so little time. they typically don't unfold in any fashion that is similar to life. i wish more of the consequential conversations happened in the margins. i wish more wisdom was dispensed in minor moments, almost in passing, rather than in full close-up with a string section telling you to pay attention. i wish it was more real and less obvious. i wish robert altman made it. the girls all do a fine job. i definitely liked them better than their grown-up versions. they just aren't given a lot to do that's not rote. everything that happened just made me think of a better way that thing could have been done. i was pulling for the girls. i am glad they got their treehouse and i am glad samantha had the guts to go back and talk to crazy pete, but i just wasn't ever unaware of what i was watching. i was never that invested. it's the pitfall of the coming of age story, for me - there's hardly ever anything in them that i remember fondly so there is no haze of nostalgia to distract me from the shortcomings of the film, no gooey reminiscences to caulk up the plot holes. plus, if i thought you were going to grow up to be demi moore i probably wouldn't want to ride bikes with you.

today, an interesting day of unexpected parallels. tomorrow, i don't expect that to be the case.

you can never be too sure, though.

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