Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Inexplicable Movie Review: Now and Then

Note: Spoilers follow for Now and Then.

Now and Then is a good, but not great, coming-of-age story about young ladies. I don’t know their exact ages, because I’m not knowledgeable about when girls experience puberty, but it’s basically like a female-focused version of The Sandlot, or Stand By Me, or seemingly dozens of other guy movies. Now and Then is different from the stereotypical 1980s teen dramas (mostly starring Molly Ringwald) because there is way more of a focus on the relationships between the friends, as opposed to Much Strife about a boy.

Surprisingly, the movie sits at 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, although 82 percent of the people who watched it liked it. Ebert gave the film two stars, praising the work of the young actresses while pretty much savaging everything else.

Reading his review, I’d say it analyzes Now and Then pretty much on the nose. (It’s like he did it for a living, or something.) The storytelling device of the film – that it’s all a big flashback with some narration by grown-up Demi Moore – is kind of hokey. It only seems to exist to allow for four established actresses – Moore, Melanie Griffith, Rosie O’Donnell and Rita Wilson – to be on the movie’s masthead, since their total screen time is about 15 lackluster minutes.

The real stars of the movie are the young versions of the adults – Christina Ricci (Roberta), Thora Birch (Teeny), Gaby Hoffmann (Samantha) and Ashleigh Aston Moore (Chrissy). Hoffmann and Birch are especially strong, which probably isn’t all that surprising to y’all reading this, given that you know how their future movie careers turned out. Moore is the only one who stayed relatively unknown – According to Wikipedia, she stopped acting in 1997, and unfortunately died in 2007 at the age of 26.

Now and Then is at its best when it’s just showing interactions between the young actresses. The inevitable comparison in this regard is Stand By Me, but unfortunately as Ebert’s review highlights, the chats aren’t as effective in this movie because of the heavy-handed narration, the “flashback” method of the film, and some really hokey plot elements. You know, stuff like the gals stealing the guys’ clothing when they skinny-dipped, and a séance gone wrong, and just stealing plot points from Home Alone, of all things.

If you’re looking for a great, female-focused coming of age story, well, this isn’t it. Gilmore Girls is still the end-all, be-all for that sort of media. Still, I found it entertaining enough for its 90-minute run time. Just focus on the youngsters performances, and laugh at the Dark and Edgy Demi Moore. If you’re feeling nostalgic, Huffington Post has a then-and-now slideshow for Now and Then.

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