tek's rating: ¾

Beautiful Girls (R)
IMDb; Miramax; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Paramount+; Vudu; YouTube

This came out in 1996, and I'm pretty sure I saw it on TV or something, sometime in the 90s. But by the time I re-watched it on DVD in 2024, I didn't remember much about it. I remembered that there was a lot of talking, I guess. And I remembered that one of the men in the movie had a sort of crush on a teenage girl played by Natalie Portman. That's all. (Lolita gets referenced in the movie, but the connection between these two characters reminded me a bit more of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Sort of.)

A jazz pianist named Willie (Timothy Hutton) returns to his hometown for his ten-year high school reunion (though we see very little of the reunion in the movie). While he's in town, he stays with his father and his younger brother, Bobby (David Arquette), but we don't see much of those two characters, either. Mainly, Willie reconnects with his old friends Tommy (Matt Dillon), Mo (Noah Emmerich), Paul (Michael Rapaport), and to a lesser extent Stanley (Pruitt Taylor Vince), whom the guys call "Stinky". There's also a guy named Kev, who is an employee in Tommy and Paul's snowplowing business. Tommy is dating a woman named Sharon (Mira Sorvino), but he's also having an affair with his high school girlfriend, Darian (Lauren Holly), who is now married to a man named Steve, with whom she has a young daughter. Mo is married to a woman named Sarah, with whom he has a couple of kids. Paul has recently broken up with a woman named Jan (Martha Plimpton), but he's upset that she's apparently now sleeping with some other guy, and he wants to get her back. Stinky has reopened an old inn with a bar/restaurant. And his cousin Andera (Uma Thurman) comes to town for a visit. All the guys are surprised that someone as attractive as her could be related to Stinky. Sharon also has a friend named Gina (Rosie O'Donnell). Actually, she has two friends, but I didn't catch the other one's name. It might have been Sarah, or maybe it was someone else of no real importance. Probably the latter, but I'm not sure. As for Willie, he's been dating a woman named Tracy (Annabeth Gish), and is unsure whether or not he wants to marry her, and whether or not he wants to take on a stable job, since his music career hasn't been paying off very well. When he comes to town, he meets Marty (Portman), the 13-year-old daughter of his father's neighbors. The two of them become friends, but his feelings about her are somewhat confusing to him. And kind of disturbing, though it's not like he'd ever act on those feelings (but he does sort of consider waiting for her to get older in like ten years). And eventually Tracy comes to town to join Willie for his reunion (though I think the only person we actually see attend it is Darian).

Well, lots of stuff happens with all (or most of) these characters, none of which I really want to spoil. For a dramedy, I didn't find the movie all that funny most of the time, but most of the time I also didn't find it all that dramatic. There was some drama, and plenty of relationship stuff, and as I said before, lots of talking. It was a decent enough movie, and I'm glad to have seen it again. But I couldn't get quite as into it as I would have liked to. I didn't particularly like most of the characters, but I didn't particularly dislike them, either. Andera, as her cousin pointed out, was cool. And Marty was kind of a cool kid. I mean, I could see why Willie liked talking to her. But also why he was kind of uncomfortable about it. I know I was uncomfortable about his mixed-up feelings about her, not that I think there's anything inherently wrong with finding someone that age attractive (and smart, and funny, as Willie said to Mo). But even entertaining the notion of wanting to be with them romantically, even if you're willing to wait until they're an adult, is disturbing. Not nearly on the level of Humbert Humbert disturbing, because Willie's not that kind of guy (I wouldn't consider him a pedophile), but still. Disturbing.

Anyway, I don't know what else to say about any other particular parts of the movie, nor about the movie as a whole. It's all just kind of... what you might call "slice of life", I guess. Or maybe you wouldn't call it that. I dunno. I just know I liked it a little bit. And various aspects of it made me a lot bit uncomfortable.

seriocomedy index