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By Coury Turczyn

NOVEMBER 17, 1997: 

I blew off the high school reunion. It wasn't because I had a dreadful high school experience (just a boring one), and it wasn't because I hated everyone I went to school with. It's just that I hadn't invested very much emotion into the thing. It was what it was, and now it's over; why go back?

Naturally, I've always wondered what would've happened if I had...Would I have finally hit on that girl from my junior year chemistry class? Would I have lorded my high degree of accomplishment and acclaim before all those yahoos from gym class? Would I have said Thank you to my sophomore English teacher?

Maybe that's why so many high school reunion movies get made—we've already concocted the scenarios in our heads, so we enjoy seeing them on film. And I must say that Gross Point Blanke is the best of the lot—it's funny, sophisticated, and doesn't take any cheap shortcuts. John Cusack stars as Martin Blanke, a high-strung fellow who happens to be a professional assassin. But he's not very happy about it—in fact, he's starting to feel like maybe killing people for a living isn't for him anymore. Thus, he decides to attend his high school reunion in search of the girl he left behind (Minnie Driver), perhaps to rekindle the romance and figure out who he is. Meanwhile, a contract is put out on his own head. Sounds like it could be terrible, but Grosse Pointe Blank has such a delicious sense of black humor in its whip-smart dialogue that it's a delight. Even Dan Aykroyd, as a competitive contract killer, is a hoot.

That's more than you can really say for Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, despite its amiable silliness. Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow co-star as airheads who try to pass themselves off as successes at their high school reunion (they invented Post-Its!). And that's the entire plot. If, perhaps, their shenanigans were truly inventive and sly, we could laugh along with them as they make fools of themselves. But they aren't. Sadly, what we have here is an attempted character study about two really, really stupid people doing really, really stupid things. This might work for Jim Carrey and his elastic face, but it doesn't work for two actresses who should have known better. This is yet another movie-length skit that should've stayed right where it was—at just under 10 minutes.

Finally, if you want another dose of high school has-beens, there's Beautiful Girls with Matt Dillon and Timothy Hutton. A fairly charming look at small-town bozos who never made much of themselves, it has some witty bits of dialogue and some nice acting (look out for Natalie Portman). This is somewhat offset by the characters' slavish worship of Uma Thurman (all their problems could be solved if they could only sleep with her!), which doesn't amount to much of a life lesson. But what did you expect from high school?


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