Beautiful Girls

Ted Demme

Although set in Massachusetts, my favorite film of director Ted Demme’s sadly short-lived career and life is one that was largely filmed in my native Minnesota. With Beautiful Girls, made all the more memorable by Scott Rosenberg’s inventive, highly quotable screenplay, Demme manages to use the popular 90’s film device of a ten year high school reunion as a backdrop for twenty-something characters all facing existential dilemmas of growing older and trying to figure out if the people they’ve become were the ones they’d dreamed they’d be when they were in high school. As our main hero Timothy Hutton questions his inability to commit to his girlfriend and his surprising fascination with and idealization of a neighbor girl (Natalie Portman taking what could’ve easily been a Lolita type and making her a young girl with an old soul), he asks his buddy if it’s his way of telling himself that he doesn’t want to grow old. Listening carefully, Noah Emmerich’s character corrects him by saying that it’s nature’s way of telling him that he doesn’t want to grow up and indeed, tackling the same territory of twenty-somethings facing premature mid-life crises made trendy in Schumacher’s popular 80’s film St. Elmo’s Fire, Demme and Rosenberg turn it into something highly original, funny, and ultimately relatable to both men and women alike. Rounding out the admirable cast is Matt Dillon, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Rosie O’Donnell, Martha Plimpton, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Michael Rapaport. While it could’ve been easy for so many stars to get lost in the shuffle and relegated to window dressing, this intimate film finds room for all to shine and there’s at least one or two great scenes included that illustrate each performer's considerable talents. Although it’s male-centric and the title indeed connotes that it’s a film for the boys, women will relate at once to the characters and laugh along with Rosie O’Donnell in her scene-stealing minor role as she schools Hutton and Dillon in one the perils of opting for physical over inner beauty. This funny and insightful movie plays even better to an audience and on multiple viewings so be sure to invite a few people over (maybe from your own group from high school) and turn it up as Demme fills Beautiful Girls with some wonderful musical selections from beginning to end.

Songs Featured in Beautiful Girls


“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond - The Neil Diamond Collection - Sweet Caroline

“Beth” by Kiss
Kiss - Greatest Kiss - Beth

“The Stroll” by The Diamonds
The Diamonds - The Best of the Diamonds: The Mercury Years - The Stroll

“Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” by The Spinners
The Spinners - The Very Best of Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling in Love

“Graduation Day” by Chris Isaak
Chris Isaak - Forever Blue - Graduation Day

“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
Billy Paul - Billy Paul: Super Hits - Me and Mrs. Jones

“Honey White” by Morphine
Morphine - Yes - Honey White

“Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That)” by Greg Kihn
Greg Kihn - True Kihnfessions - Breakup Song

“I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls
A Flock of Seagulls - Platinum & Gold Collection: A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran

“Fool to Cry” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones - Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones - Fool to Cry

“Will It Go Round in Circles” by Billy Preston
Billy Preston - Ultimate Collection: Billy Preston - Will It Go Round in Circles