Beautiful Girls (1996)

“I like to mash snow. It gives me a tremendous feeling of self satisfaction.”

Andie’s Rating: Cold martini, Van Morrison

Andie’s Review: I recommend Beautiful Girls to just about everybody I think will enjoy a good drama with some comedy thrown in. I also tell them to watch it with people they either grew up with or went to high school with. The premise of this movie is a bunch of guys getting ready for their 10th year class reunion. They include guys like Tom (Matt Dillon) and Paul (Michael Rappaport) who plow snow and never left the town and Willie (Tim Hutton), a piano player who drives in from the city for the reunion. It focuses on what they’ve become since high school, particularly their love lives.

What makes it so interesting is that it’s exactly right. One guy can’t commit to his girlfriend because he’s still hung up on his high school flame, one guy is married with kids, one guy is obsessed wth models, and one guy has a terrific girl but can’t decide if she’s the one. My favorite storyline in the whole movie is the relationship that develops between Willie and the girl who has moved in next door to the house he grew up in. The girl, Marty, is played by Natalie Portman in what I believe to be her finest performance. She absolutely steals every scene she’s in and lights up the screen. Rosie O’Donnell also has a terrific monologue about how guys need to stop obsessing over women in magazines because they aren’t real.

This is a fantastic movie for both girls and guys. But it’s not real fast-paced, so you have to sit down and really be ready to watch a movie.

Kyle’s Rating: Bring on the May-December romance!

Kyle’s Review: I rented Beautiful Girls not only because a friend of mine highly recommended it, but also because it has two of my favorite actors in it: Timothy Hutton and Natalie Portman. Imagine my great joy when I found that Portman interacted (almost) solely with Hutton, and my not-so great surprise that their scenes together were the high points of the film.

Sure, there is other stuff in this movie. Hutton plays Willie, an always-in-black piano player at a maturity crossroads in his life that takes a break from looming decisions in his New York City existence to travel back to his small and snowy hometown for his 10-year high school reunion. While he’s back home, he’ll find plenty of distractions in his old friends (Matt Dillon, Michael Rappaport and (MO), among others) and his dysfunctional family sans his dead mother. Oh, and everyone drinks a lot, so that helps keep real-life stuff on the backburner.

But the best distraction is Portman as Marty, whose family has moved next door to Willie’s childhood home. An extraordinarily witty and well-versed 13-year-old, Marty will present the 29-year-old Willie with quite the quandary: should he take one last drink at home before heading back to NYC and proposing to his long-time hot girlfriend, or should he wait five years for Marty to be legal so they can travel this world together? No, I’m not kidding. The banter and bond they come to share while Willie is back in town is so strong that you’ll sit impatiently through the other stuff going on in this movie, because you want to see Willie and Marty get together in the end.

There is other cool stuff in this movie. Even Rosie O’Donnell is palatable in her slight role that exists only so she can give a hilarious rant on the state of male-female relations nowadays. Dillon and Rappaport are appropriate as small-town dudes who run a snowplow business, as are Mira Sorvino and Martha Plimpton as their long-suffering mates. It’s nice to see small town people who aren’t yearning for the thrill of the city or some other faraway excitement: everyone is content with where they’re at, it’s who they’re with that is important.

So on the strength of the Hutton-Portman scenes and the rapport this movie has with anyone who has ever gone through tough and questioning periods in their life, I can quite happily recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. Life will always make you wonder if you’re doing the right thing, and if Beautiful Girls is any indication, you’ll be fine as long as you stay true to your heart and drink as often as possible.

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