Nostalgia is a hard thing to get right in movies. When done poorly, it can seem like a whole film can be predicated on the sentiment, “Huh. I remember that,” with little fanfare or effort. When done properly, nostalgia can overcome the characters and the audience, transporting them back to a bygone time with powerful emotion.
However, that sentiment can be difficult to convey in 90 minutes with characters we’re just meeting. Thus, film franchises can often play to nostalgia with ease, as the characters have already been developed, so we can get right to the plot, as is done in the upcoming American Reunion movie. However, establishing a film franchise isn’t as easy at it sounds, so many of the most memorable (good, bad, or otherwise) reunion films are stand alone, taking us back to high school, college, or even grade school.
These are their stories.
(cue Law & Order music)
Perhaps the ultimate reunion movie, this film brings back together a gaggle of college friends 15 years later for the funeral of a friend. Characters from many different stations in life all get together to reminisce about the old days.
This film has proven to be fairly polarizing, as many feel that the smug, whiney characters embodied much of what would prove to be wrong in the 1980’s, while still maintaining many of the sensibilities that made people hate hippies in the late 1960’s.
Others feel that it’s a pretty accurate look at both those periods, for better or worse, in a “don’t shoot the messenger” fashion. The soundtrack offers a trove of hits from the 60’s and 70’s, and consequently faces similar criticism, especially from those record store clerks in High Fidelity.
The name says it all. High school reunions are often dreaded by those who were once popular and now aren’t, as well as those who weren’t popular and still aren’t. In fact, the only people that really should like reunions are the rags to riches story, but they’re generally above the competition having achieved success later in life.
While Romy and Michelle certainly didn’t become world beaters, they want to convince everyone that they are, even claiming that they invented Post-It notes for 3M, which is pretty damn funny. Of course, their resiliency pays off, and they end up with the reunion of their dreams, even flying off in a helicopter.
And, of course, the whole thing is soundtracked with some killer 1980’s songs. This film is worth it for the “Time after Time” interpretive dance alone.