Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 4/28/99
1996 (1999) - Miramax
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/C/F
Specs and Features
113 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu
screens, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0
surround), subtitles: English, Close Captioned
In a small, sleepy
town in upstate New York, a group of high school friends has
assembled for their 10-year class reunion. Willie (Timothy Hutton),
a musician, returns home for the occasion to gain some perspective -
he has to decide whether or not to marry his long-time girlfriend,
and if he should continue his music career or pursue a more "sensible"
line of work. His old high school buddies, among them, Tommy (Matt
Dillon) and Paul (Michael Rapaport) are faced with life decisions of
their own. Tommy, a former jock for whom high school really WAS the
best days of his life, finds himself still in love with his former
girlfriend (Lauren Holly), who is now married. Unfortunately, his
current girlfriend (Mira Sorvino) suffers as a result. And Paul,
faced with pressure to marry his girlfriend of seven years, turned
tail and ran. Now she's shacking up with a meat-cutter, and it's got
him seriously "creased". You get the idea - these nearly
thirty-somethings are faced with the reality of how their lives are
actually turning out (as opposed to how they imagined their lives
going), and it's got 'em quaking in their boots. We've all been
I'll confess, I really love this movie. The name on the street
signs may say Knight's Ridge, New York, but Beautiful
Girls was actually shot in Stillwater, Minnesota, and
it's the spitting image of the town where I grew up in North Dakota.
That fluffy snow, the grungy vehicles (always dirty and full of rust
from the salt on the roads), hanging out at the bowling alley or the
local tavern, the clothes, the look of the houses - it all brings
back memories. And the characters in this film... well, it's not
stretching it to say that I have friends JUST like this back home.
My personal reasons for digging Beautiful
Girls aside, there are more tangible to like it as well -
it's just a great movie. The performances are first-rate all around.
It's good to see Timothy Hutton doing movies again - he's been
missed I think. Rosie O'Donnell has some great scenes here, as she
scolds the "boys" for their infatuation with so-called "perfect"
women. Uma Thurman is charming as the visiting big-city cousin of
one of the locals, who stirs up the mix. But it's Natalie Portman
who really steals the film, as a would-be Lolita and sage (much
older than her years), who has a crush on Willie (or is it the other
way around?) and helps him find his perspective.
As DVDs go, this disc is wanting. The non-anamorphic widescreen
picture is sometimes grainy, and at one time or other shows all of
the artifacts that we've come to expect from analog source material.
This is clearly not as good as the film could have looked. The sound
here is Dolby Surround only - it's adequate for a dialogue-only
movie, but don't expect an immersive sound environment here. And
there are absolutely no extras whatsoever. Not even a trailer. What
a shame. You just know that there were funny outtakes, deleted
scenes, and lots nifty extras that could have been scared up if
Buena Vista had had the mind to. Oh well. Still, this is a great
film, full of funny moments and engaging characters. If you can find
this disc on sale, it's definitely worth a look.