Written by: Scott Rosenberg
Directed by: Ted Demme
Starring: Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Noah Emmerich, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A piano player at a crossroads in his life returns to his hometown high school reunion. His friends face similar situations where life hasn't worked out quite like they anticipated.
This is the what do I do with my life genre. Willie and his friends haven't quite matured to adults, but aren't kids. It almost veers into the category of a guys movie with them hanging out at a bar, but offers a lot of depth. They're all chasing something, whether it's an image, the past, or the future. The characters are wondering, what now? You'll either know someone like these characters or can identify with them. This zeros in on that moment when you reach a crossroads. You have to live life instead of fantasizing about what you could have or have lost.
This is a slice of life, nostalgic movie. You've got the popular jock Tommy (Matt Dillon) who's living in the past, scared his best years are behind him in high school. Paul (Michael Rapaport) is chasing the images of centerfold models. He's never grown out of his teenage years, his room still adorned with magazine images. Willie (Timothy Hutton) tried to make it as a pianist and realizes that's not going to cut it. He doesn't know what to do now. His friends look up to him since he managed to escape the town. He may have escaped but he didn't make it big.
Willie gets advice from his thirteen year old living next to his dad, Marty (Natalie Portman). She's easily the best character in the movie because she has the best dialog. She's thirteen going on forty with a wit and knowledge base far above a typical teen. Her wit is only matched by Willie's.
That's part of the reason that Willie is so intrigued by her. She is a fantasy escape from his life, and he has a crush on her, but knows he can't act. She of course develops a crush on him. While he feeds her crush by wanting to talk to her, he stops the notions that they'll wait for each other telling her she'll grow up and forget about him. He had considered the same, but sees the crush for what it is. Willie and Marty are both looking for an escape, as are his friends.
His friends are living like they're still in high school. As Paul says, "Nothing ever changes." He's referring to the town, but it could just as easily be his mindset.
Willie's time back home provides a moment to reflect, and the high school reunion makes it clear to all the characters that it's time to grow up.
The pop culture references are extensive, from Breakfast Club to Misery and Winnie the Pooh to name a few. The music definitely has some '90s sensibilities.
I hate to say it since it's a banal description but it's a 'nice' movie. It's a feel good type, where you can relate because you've been there.