Comedy #6: “Beautiful Girls” (1996)
It’s a damn shame “Beautiful Girls” was packaged as a chick flick when it first came out. This is a movie written by a guy, directed by a guy, and is about guys. Sure, it has Uma Thurman and Lauren Holly and Mira Sorvino and Rosie O’Donnell and her famous centerpiece rant on beauty and a 14-year-old Natalie Portman in a star-making turn as a wise-beyond-her-years ingenue, but it is really about bros realizing they finally have to grow up. It also has one of the best pop soundtracks outside of Ridgemont High.
Timothy Hutton returns to his small home town in New England for his 10th high school reunion and realizes not a goddamn thing has changed. While he ties one on for a week and catches up with his old buddies, he starts a strange friendship with the young Natalie Portman. Like “Some Girls,” another character-driven ensemble set in the heart of winter, “Beautiful Girls” isn’t so much a comedy as a bemused and amused take on relationships. It is honest, funny, and bittersweet, particularly since its talented young director, Ted Demme, died a few years after making it. If this was his legacy then, it was a damn fine one.