Now and Then (1995) — Stand By Me with bras

“All women have a garden, and a garden needs a big hose to water it… or a small hose… as long as it works.”

PoolMan’s rating: Even the voice of Moe the Bartender couldn’t make me love this.

PoolMan’s review: Well, here we are in Sensitivity Training Gender Bender Week (I think that’s what Kyle said he finally wanted it called), and I just couldn’t be any more thrilled. Why? Because it means I’ve already served my sentence, and by the time you read this my suffering will have ended. Beer fridge, here I come!

At my darling Nancy’s suggestion, my assignment was Now and Then, which I’ll begin by describing as one of the hardest-to-find movies I’ve ever had foisted upon me. I drove to no fewer than four video stores around my home town. Imagine my surprise when it turned up at the run-down place that doesn’t alphabetize ANYTHING. I asked the clerk where I would find the video, given that it was marked “in” on the computer, and he waved a hand lazily in a direction one might call west and said “over there.” I believe Sherpas were in order. Naturally, the only format available was VHS (something which raises my ire in this day and age, although I should be glad this hasn’t ever made it to DVD, I suppose), and the clerk gave me that knowing smirk that all but said “Ah, your wife’s punishing for something you did, yes? Something wicked? Hm?” No such luck.

So finally, here we are. I’m reviewing the most estrogen-soaked piece of film I’ve seen in years. Can’t… get… clean!!!

Basically, Now and Then is a coming of age movie made for women who are obviously still bitter about having turned thirty. Set both in 1995 and in 1970, we follow the adventures of four friends at age 12 and 37. The plot supposedly starts in ’95 with the women all getting together for the expected birth of the first baby among them. Apparently they made a vow when they were all 12 to come to each other’s aid any time they needed, forever (such a finicky legal term, “forever.” Remind me not to use that one). Never mind that they’ve all grown into totally different women who in reality would probably just as soon murder each other if they lived in close proximity, Chrissy, Samantha, Roberta, and Teeny gather at Chrissy’s house (the same house her parents owned as a girl, mind you) and hunker down to wait for the birth.

Where the story really happens is in the past. The bulk of the movie is about the summer of 1970, when they made their pact, grew from little girls into young women, and (groan) learned about the power of friendship while at the same time growing independent of each other. And not only is the story more interesting in the past, the soundtrack gets FAR better. Nobody wants the music of the ’90s back. Nobody.

In the early going of watching this movie, I was reminded of the last movie I saw based on the premise of “totally dysfunctional group of girlfriends vow to support each other no matter what and grow up,” and that was Crossroads. See where I’m going with this?

Smelling sharply of Stand By Me mixed with bras, Now and Then lacks the interesting components of either. The four young girls have miscellaneous experiences, all of which loosely revolve around the larger story of Who Killed The Random Boy Whose Grave They Hold Seances Over In The Cemetary?

You’d think I’m kidding, but no. They spend the whole movie agonizing over how a 12-year-old boy died in 1945, and go to Scooby Doo-worthy lengths to find out, naturally learning about life and love in the process. I don’t know what’s more unbelievable; that I managed to make it through this whole flick or that there wasn’t a scene featuring one of the girls’ first period. I was shocked that this little gem wasn’t included. Maybe the DVD release one day will have that deleted scene.

Anyways, there were some fun lines in the script, and the cast is remarkable. The girls are played by Melanie Griffith/Thora Birch, Rosie O’Donnell/Christina Ricci, Demi Moore/Gaby Hoffman, and Rita Wilson/Ashleigh Moore. That alone is interesting enough, but then you also get Brendan Fraser (who, incidentally I had no idea was that much older than the girl actresses), Hank Azaria, Devon Sawa, Cloris Leachman, Janeane Garofalo, and Bonnie Hunt. That’s a lot of recognizable names. But that certainly doesn’t change the fact that this is movie whose target audience I am most certifiably not.

Even still, I really can’t tell whether this would be a good movie for members of the opposite gender. It steals copiously from Stand By Me, Home Alone, and other sources. The “mystery” of dear Johnny’s death is really not that exciting, so basically you’re left with the question of how much do you care whether four young girls can stay friends forever, even if they grow up to be Hollywood twits, sarcastic OB/GYN’s, moronic homemakers, or chain smoking science fiction authors.

If you care to find out for yourself, I won’t spoil it for you. I hear there’s another copy in Bangladesh that’s available right now. As for me, I’m off to see if I can sneak a couple of Shalen’s scorpions into Nancy’s lunchbag.

Didja notice?

  • The nose picking kid… nice
  • Wow… do you think Demi chain smokes?
  • Long, lingering sweeps over EVERYTHING
  • So did they cast Demi as a man by mistake or what?
  • Kyle will be happy… Christina Ricci measures her chest size without a shirt on
  • Big hose, small hose. Right
  • Ah, Fartass, the classic insult
  • Hope you like girls screaming…
  • …and naked boys running around
  • You may start to wonder if they’re ever going back to the adult actors. Sadly, they do.
  • “You can believe in yourself, if you’re lucky.” Yikes, no wonder Brendan Fraser went uncredited in this flick
  • I love the kid who keeps yelling FIGHT!!! In the happy face shirt.
  • Check out the collar on Hank Azaria
  • Just curious: why does nobody ever take Dare? Why is it always Truth?
  • Hang on a second… four kids think they’ve uncovered a murder mystery, and it’s ACTUALLY a murder?
  • That’s some bad fake pregnant breathing.

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