Not all love stories are about romantic love. Sometimes friendship surpasses romance by merely outlasting it. By being there through thick and thin as lovers come and go. We see this level of loyalty and platonic love between women in movies all the time—Thelma and Louise, Now and Then, Beaches, Fried Green Tomatoes, Me Without You. Unfortunately, these films are often slapped with the derogatory label of "chick flick" detracting from their depiction of some of cinema’s most enduring love stories. One of the more comical and charming examples of this platonic love bunch is Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Were there ever a BFF competition, I'd wager that Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) would synchronize dance their way off stage with the award for Funnest Forever Friends.
It’s been twenty years since Romy and Michele hit the road to attend their ten-year high school reunion. Dressed in their self-made businesswoman attire and armed with what they believe to be an impressive lie—that they invented post-its - the two simpleminded besties zoom off to Tucson with a mixtape of hits from the '80s and an unwavering confidence that they're about to wow the crowd that thought less of them in high school. A series of flashbacks reveal them being picked on by the hoity-toity "A" group and how their unshakable friendship always got them through it. With their Valley Girl accents and fierce fashion sense they always stood out but have never fit in. These kindred spirits are lucky to have found each other where they remain blissfully oblivious to anything outside of their candy-colored friendship bubble.
When we first meet the heroines they're living together in Los Angeles with few cares outside of reading Vogue, watching and ridiculing Pretty Woman, and designing cute outfits to wear to the clubs. It's not until former classmate—and my kindred spirit—Heather Mooney (Janeane Garofalo) shows up with news of the reunion that Romy begins to doubt their accomplishments, or lack thereof, over the last ten years ("What's the point of going if we're not going to impress people?"). Despite an obvious talent and flair for fashion design, it has never occurred to Romy and Michele to aspire to anything more than hanging out and having fun together. But the prospect of getting back at the "A" group lights a fire under Romy to appear more interesting, even if it means toning down her true self. Michele, being the loyal friend and follower she is, goes along with whatever plan makes Romy happy.
Of course, even the best of friends encounter a little drama now and then. Romy's attitude and insistence on pretending to be someone she's not starts to take a toll on Michele, who is perfectly content with their life. When they have a falling out—over post-its—things escalate into a battle over who is cuter ("I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda!") and Romy decides, to Michele's dismay, that they'd be better off without each other. Cue one of my all time favorite dream sequences where they arrive at the reunion and everything is like, well, like a dream. They get everything their hearts desire except for the fact that they end up going their separate ways and growing old without each other.
In reality, of course, being separated from each other is a complete disaster. Caught in her lie, Romy is once again ridiculed by the "A" group and despite their fight, Michele doesn't hesitate to swoop in to save her friend. She hexes the arrogant A's in the process with the classic insult, "I hope your babies look like monkeys" and jolts Romy back to herself with her simple, yet brilliant revelation: "I think we should go back out there as ourselves and just have fun like we always do. To hell with everyone else!"
Fashion is their weapon and one costume change into their iridescent space dresses later and Romy's confidence is back with a vengeance. Together they confront that nasty bitch Christie Masters-Christianson (Julia Campbell) and finally give her what-for: "You're a bad person with an ugly heart, and we don't give a flying fuck what you think!" Suddenly everything falls into place with all the former outcasts being the biggest success stories of the reunion. Even Romy and Michele wow everyone with their bold fashion and, most impressive of all, their dedication to each other. When former “Frink-a-zoid” turned millionaire inventor, Sandy Frink (Alan Cumming) arrives to sweep Michele off her feet, he agrees to dance with the inseparable duo. The crowd gathers to watch in awe (well, duh) as the trio anticipates every move of cinema's most awkward, absurd, and absolutely joy inducing dance.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is one of many “chick flicks” proving that love stories aren't limited to fairytale versions of romance. It's a fun, feel good movie about being true to yourself that celebrates how friendship can be the most powerful love a person can hope to find. A loyal friend makes the hard parts in life easier to bear just by being there. They remind you who you are and where you come from. They have a flip phone if you need to make a call. And they're, like, the funnest person you know. Romy and Michele live happily ever after working in fashion and folding scarves together. I'd wager they'll grow old together after all and that their love story will outlast many romances. Time after time.