Power sucks, or certainly the abuse of it does; whether more convictions are the result of the on-going MeToo revolution or not, it’s to be hoped that the film industry will no longer be a place where one evil man can successfully blacklist a wronged woman. Mira Sorvino made accusations of exactly that nature, and her reward was a general blacklisting; it’s pretty much apparent that her career has suffered various undeserved indignities including the straight-up insult of having her father left out of the Oscars’ In Memoriam section earlier this week. Paul Sorvino had 175+ imdb credits in his enviable career, from Reds to Goodfellas; presumably being one of the few men to stand up to disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein has irrevocably tarnished his brand in the eyes of the Academy, since no apology seems forthcoming.
Two years after winning her Academy Award, Sorvino did some of her best work in this Touchstone Pictures comedy which pairs her with Friends star Lisa Kudrow. While everything from Bill and Ted to Dumb and Dumber gets prequels, sequels and reboots, Romy and Michelle seems to have been left on the shelf, and that’s a real shame, because it’s a funny, likable film with strong female characters.The point of origin is a play, Ladies Room by Robin Shiff; one that gave birth to the characters of Romy and Michelle, played by Sorvino and Kudrow respectively.
The tagline, The Blonde leading the Blonde, reflects the fun that’s had with the heroines being somewhat gauche; the gag is that Romy and Michelle are losers, but they resolve to fake it until they make it, specifically because they’re headed home from LA for a high-school reunion which they hope won’t reflect their penury. A chance encounter with Heather Mooney (Janeanne Garofalo) in a Jaguar repair-shop inspires the girls to deceive their old friends and foes alike by pretending to have invented Post-It stickers and other white lies. Of course, the internet hasn’t happened yet, so it’s quite possible to get away with such untruths, since any fact-checking seems to have been an unknown art in 1997.
There’s lots of fun to be with David Mirkin’s film; early roles for Justin Theroux and Alan Cumming, who has a wild dance scene set to Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time in the film’s celebratory climax. But Sorvino and Kudrow have great comic timing, just enough pathos, and two characters who should have spawned a franchise for sure. And this is a story where the girls kick ass, take on the bullies and braggarts, and win in a most satisfactory way. There’s no way to accurately assess the injustice that’s been done to actresses like Sorvino, but giving Romy and Michelle a dust down, or even a sequel, might be a tiny step in the right direction.