I didn’t think I’d like Beautiful Girls. I was expecting a male bashing “chick flick.” I’m happy to say that my assumptions were completely wrong. Beautiful Girls is a wonderfully charming and entertaining film that has become one of my favorite movies. In fact, Beautiful Girls is geared more toward guys than girls. Of course both sexes will enjoy it immensely, and it can be enjoyed with your guy friends, your girl friends, both sexes, your significant other, or by yourself. It’s just a great movie that is the perfect combination of comedy and drama. The film focuses on a group of guys who get together for their ten-year high school reunion. None of them have turned out the way they thought they would, but all the girls in their lives are beautiful for one reason or another. The relationships and expectations are what make the film fun. The story takes place in a primarily blue-collar town in New York State (it was actually filmed in Minnesota).
Matt Dillon plays Tommy, a guy who used to be king of the hill in high school, but now plows snow. He and his old high school sweetheart, Darian (Lauren Holly), still hold a torch for one another, even though Darian is married with a child and Tommy is involved with Sharon (Mira Sorvino). Tommy’s feelings for Darian are tearing Sharon apart. Rosie O’Donnell, brash and funny as always, plays Gina who is there to council Sharon. (Her lecture on the unrealistic expectations of men is hilarious.) Michael Rapaport plays Paul, a guy who can’t quite deal with a fallout between he and his girlfriend Jan (Martha Plimpton) after their seven year relationship. Paul is quite a character with a minor preoccupation with super models (he is actually quite profound on this subject). Mo (Noah Emmerich) is, arguably, the most successful of the group, as he has a good job and a nice family. His contentment contrasts with the other characters. Adding to the mix is Andera (Uma Thurman). She’s a stranger in town and is the most exotic thing the guys have ever seen. As if there wasn’t enough going on already, Timothy Hutton plays Willy, a piano playing, semi-cool, semi-nerdy, nice guy who has come back to his home town to make a decision about marrying his lawyer girlfriend Tracy (Anabeth Gish). While he’s there, Willy meets Marty (Natalie Portman) the most beautiful girl of them all. He, more or less, falls in love with her because of her wit, charm, beauty, goodness, and intelligence. The only problem is that she’s thirteen.
Everybody is excellent in this film. All come across as being normal people living normal lives. There are constant hilarious moments, and yet the themes in the film are quite touching and very real.
The Dolby Surround soundtrack is acceptable for this film. Everything sounds fine. Not great, but not lacking in any way. The many well-chosen pop songs sound good and work superbly in the film (this is a rarity these days). Video quality is decent, but not great. The widescreen picture is not 16:9 enhanced, and is a little grainy with some artifacts here and there. On the whole, however, the picture looks good. There are no supplements included on the disc. (Short interviews with the participants would have been wonderful.)
To me, this movie is certainly worth buying, despite its mediocre presentation. Beautiful Girls is one of the most refreshing movies I’ve seen in a long time. Its remarkable and lovely cast (especially young Natalie Portman) is infectious. I’m sure there will be a few people who won’t like the movie, or find it boring or stupid, but that’s because they’ve “been eating retard sandwiches.”
Entertainment Value: *****
Critical Value: ****
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