Now and Then

Do any of you (all three of y’all) have songs or phrases that are irrevocably linked with a movie? You hear it, and the scene pops into your head. You can’t untangle them? I’ve got a lot of such links to Now and Then. Lord knows how many times I watched it as a kid, prolly on some worn out VHS tape recorded from the tv. The other night during Zoom Trivia our trivia guy was playing “No Matter What” by Badfinger. My brain adds in the girls singing the song over the sound of the band, with their extra emphasis on “I will give it to YOU”. I think this will be a good movie for the watch pile. I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past week, so the positivity rule is in play. Except I search the wall and it’s not there. What?! How do I not own this movie? I quickly rectified the situation.

It’s not just that one song that’s stayed with me. It’s the whole soundtrack. This was my original Awesome Mix of 70’s pop hits. And it’s not just the soundtrack. It’s the dialog too. I hear words out of context that trigger entire scenes to play out in my head. I just know every frame of this movie. Sidebar, I realized that as a kid, I had no concept for how long a movie was. I’ve noticed with rewatching childhood favorites like this, I have no clue how long they are. And whereas now, I check the timing and figure out when it’ll be done to plan my day, back then I’d just throw them on. Could be the hour forty of Now and Then, or the two and a half of Forrest Gump (yes I watched that a lot as a kid, we’ve been over that story before).

Four childhood best friends are reuniting as adults (Rosie O’Donnell, Melanie Griffith, Demi Moore, Rita Wilson) for the first time in years. This brings them to reflect back on their best summer ever, as children in the 70’s (the children being Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffmann, and Ashleigh Aston Moore). They had free reign over their suburban town, saving to build a treehouse and avoiding the Wormer brothers’ torments. But what they spent most of the summer on was investigating the mysterious death of Dear Johnny, a boy their age who passed away decades earlier. It’s a sweet story of sisterhood and innocense.

One thing I feel makes this film special is how distinct each of the characters are. Four different personality types with four different upbringings. Personally, I always identified most with Roberta (Ricci). She was the tough girl tomboy of the bunch. Although, sadly I never got to kiss Devon Sawa like she did, or anyone remotely close to him. Watching it now, I still feel like personality wise I’m Roberta, but I’ve got a lot of Chrissy in me too. I never cared for her before because she’s the big girly girl (so not me) but she’s the one with the sheltered upbringing and unbroken home. This also makes her the worrier of the bunch, and the one they trust with their treehouse fund (yeah that detail hit close to home). I suppose now it makes sense why the two of them are paired off as besties. I don’t think I ever quite got it before.

This nostalgic swim was exactly what I needed this past week that I’ve been in a funk. I still remembered nearly every beat of the film, while still feeling like I was watching it for the first time. It’s one of the great family movies of the 90’s and one that I don’t think gets enough attention anymore these days.