Turn Back The Clock

DVD Review

Now and Then

New Line Cinema

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I was a kid, I thought the friendships I made back then would last forever.  We’d make promises to one another – a solemn oath that we would always be there for each other in times of need.  As I grew older, most of those friendships faded and the oaths were forgotten, but some remain today and we’ve mostly stayed true to our word.  When a friend is in trouble, we help however we can, by listening or lending a helping hand.  This is probably why I related so much to the movie Now and Then.

            Now and Then is a comedy about four friends who make a solemn vow as children to always be there for one another.  Twenty years later, the friends reunite to help on of their own, on the verge of having her first child.  We join the group – Roberta, Teeny, Samantha, and Chrissy – as adults and come along for the journey as they reminisce about the greatest summer of their lives. 

            Chrissy, the naïve member of the group, always resistant to change, has become the charming housewife, living in the home she grew up in.  Teeny is a much sought after actress.  Roberta has become a doctor and still lives in the same town.  Samantha, narrator of the tale, has become a science fiction writer.  As we travel back to that fateful summer, we learn about turning points in the characters’ lives that brought them to where they are in the present.

            Their greatest summer was centered around a séance the girls performed in which they believed they had resurrected the ghost of a long dead child.  The girls believe that the child has commissioned them to discover the truth behind his tragic death and set about searching for the answers that no one wants to share.  Each of the girls has their own separate reasons for wanting to discover the truth, but the story seems to center around Roberta and Samantha.  Roberta lost her mother in a car accident and is searching for some sort of closure to that relationship as well as to the mystery of “Dear Johnny”.  Samantha is struggling with the fact that her parents are getting a divorce.  In their search for the truth, the girls realize that not everything their parents have told them is the honest truth – some are watered down versions of the truth and some are outfight lies meant to soften the blow that the truth may afford them.  The girls do some serious growing up over that summer.

            Anyone who watches this movie can’t help but laugh as they reminisce about their own childhoods.  Who can forget the games like Red Rover, Red Rover?  What neighborhood didn’t have their own special class of bullies?  What town hasn’t had its share of mysteries?  We laugh at Chrissy’s explanation of sex (“All women have a garden, and a garden needs a big hose to water it... or a small hose... as long as it works.”), sympathize with Roberta’s awkwardness with puberty, and nod with understanding as the girls realize that their perfect little worlds aren’t so perfect after all.  I, in particular, laughed heartily at one scene in particular, when Samantha’s grandmother comes to the house to see the family after Samantha’s father has left, and her mother hides herself and the kids, hoping that the grandmother will think the house empty and leave.  It reminded me of something my own mother used to do when an unwanted visitor came to the door.  Then there’s the scene when one of the boys at an impromptu baseball game heckles Roberta while she’s at the plate.  What girl can’t sympathize with that…or the fight that breaks out afterwards when the girls proceed to kick the heckler’s ass?

            Casting for this movie was wonderfully done.  The children and their adult versions were perfectly matched.  Samantha is wonderfully portrayed by Gaby Hoffman as a child and Demi Moore as the cynical adult she has become.  Thora Birch is the perfect child match for the adult Teeny played by Melanie Griffith Christina Ricci is excellent as the tomboy Roberta and Rosie O’Donnell is hysterical as the grown up version.  Ashleigh Aston Moore does a perfect job portraying the naive Chrissy, as does Rita Wilson in her portrayal of the grown up, set in her ways version.  Equally good in their small, but essential roles are Cloris Leachman as Samantha’s grandmother, Janeane Garofalo as the town witch, Bonnie Hunt as Chrissy’s mom, Brendon Fraser as the Vietnam Vet, and Devon Sawa as Scott Wormer.

            The soundtrack of Now and Then is definitely something you’ll want to run out and purchase after watching the film.  It’s filled with old favorites like I’ll Be There by the Jackson 5, Band of Gold by Freda Payne, No Matter What by Badfinger, Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn and contains a new song by former Bangle Susanna Hoffs called Now and Then.

            Yes, I think Now and Then would definitely classify as a chick flick, though I believe that guys would get a chuckle out of some scenes - especially one in which the town bully becomes anything but when he attempts his first kiss with Roberta.  There are some that will scoff at the film’s message and happily ever after ending, but I for one find this film to be fun and worthwhile.  In fact, I have recommended it to many a person and have watched the VHS tape of the movie so many times, I’m certain I’ve just about worn it out.  The film brings back memories and makes you laugh.  It’s designed to be fun and I definitely have fun watching Now and Then…every single time I watch it!


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