Beautiful Girls (1996) starring Timothy Hutton, Natalie Portman, Matt Dillon, Michael Rapaport, Rosie O'Donnell, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman directed by Ted Demme Movie Review

Beautiful Girls (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Matt Dillon, Max Perlich, Noah Emmerich, Michael Rapaport and Timothy Hutton in Beautiful Girls

Beautiful Portman falls for Hutton

In what is basically a romantic drama a group of high school buddies re-unite in the small town where they grew up for their forthcoming high school reunion. Each discover that they are struggling to deal with challenges which life throws at them such as finding someone to love, being fearful of commitment and realising that they can no longer live the life they started in high school and now need to face reality.

Despite being a pretty straight forward romantic drama, "Beautiful Girls" is actually a cut above the majority as it is slightly darker than most and on top of this it combines the coming-of-age genre into the mix to make for a pretty decent movie. In many ways it's a reunion movie in the same manner as the likes of "The Big Chill" and "Indian Summer" as it follows what seems a simple formula of friends dealing with the issues of life. All of which does make it for the most predictable but it is also entertaining, which makes all the predictable ness acceptable.

Timothy Hutton and Natalie Portman in Beautiful Girls

Despite being predictable and quite formulaic, it has the set up as the old friends coming together, the realisation that each has their own set of issues before wrapping it up nicely with the world put to rights, "Beautiful Girls" also throws a few unexpected moments at you. One of these is that Willie having returned home suddenly becoming enchanted by the 13 year old girl next door, rationalising his emotions with the fact that in 10 years she will be 23 and nothing would seem wrong. It's not exactly what you expect from a movie which focuses on fun and romance, but gives it a different feeling to many of these reunion type movies and provides a good central basis for the movie.

What definitely helps is the well balanced blend of characters which make up this group of old friends. Timothy Hutton as piano player Willie does a very good job of basically being the central figure whilst Matt Dillon is perfectly cast as the local Casanova who fears settling down to just one woman. These are just two of the many good performances which include Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman and a young Natalie Portman.

Despite being mainly a drama "Beautiful Girls" does have a fair few lighter moments which are interspersed throughout the movie. Like the overall feel of the movie these are not the normal slapstick, clowning around style comedy, but a much darker style of comedy. There is very few references to visual humour in this film but relies on an excellent script.

What this all boils down to is that although "Beautiful Girls" is over 15 years old, it still has something over the modern crop of romantic dramas. This is mainly due to the excellent script which keeps you involved with each of the characters. Along with the subtle humour, this is a real hit for me. If you are a fan of the current crop of romantic comedies you may be disappointed as this does not rely solely on gags, but if you enjoy films with a decent script you will definitely get something from "Beautiful Girls".