Time After Time: Romy and Michele’s (25th Anniversary) High School Reunion

Anna Roisman pays tribute to the Lisa Kudrow-Mira Sorvino comedy classic, which came out a quarter century ago this week.

It is truly hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since we learned about the origin story of Post-Its. (I don’t care who says otherwise – this is how I know Post-Its exist!) This month marks a major anniversary of one of the greatest female-led comedy movies of all time, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. The 1990s were a decade full of incredible buddy comedy movies like Dumb & Dumber, Tommy Boy and To Wong Foo, but Romy and Michele gave us hilarious and powerful feminine energy that remains legendary today!

Michele (Lisa Kudrow) and Romy (Mira Sorvino) are style icons who wear incredible outfits, even to go to the laundromat.

For those who haven’t seen Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, where have you been for the past 25 years?! This movie is iconic. It’s the story of two best friends from high school who become roommates as adults, and get an invitation to their 10-year high school reunion. When they realize they haven’t changed much since high school, they decide to come up with lies to make themselves look like successful “businesswomen.” The plot of this movie is basically how people treat their Instagram! Super relatable, right? We strive to look perfect, we filter our faces and we showcase the best and brag-worthy moments from our lives. (And by “we,” I mean me. You haven’t seen my real face on social media since 2014 and I plan to keep it this way.) But in this movie, we’re rooting for Romy and Michele. These two very funny characters are so likable and confident in themselves that it doesn’t even matter if they lie about their careers. They have an air of confidence that most people strive for their whole lives, and that’s what makes us love them.

I watched this movie recently with my boyfriend, who had only seen it back in the nineties. I have seen it many times, but whenever I watch a movie nowadays, especially an older movie, I feel like my brain is programmed to flag everything that is dated, or would be considered “cancelled.” (I cringe even writing that word.) But hey, we are more sensitive these days! Surprisingly, this movie aged very, very well. Most of the jokes, the friendship between Romy and Michele, and the theme of presenting yourself as better-than-you’re-actually-doing remain still feel spot-on for today. One thing I noticed is the lack of diversity in this movie, which is sadly something you can say for a lot of movies from the ’90s. Also, a big change? Who really needs to go to a reunion anymore when we have Facebook? I’ve never been to a reunion, because I already know that Jen had three kids and lives in the suburbs. Big whoop! (Side note: I have had a personal rule to mute people once they get married, have babies, or see Hamilton.) So, I believe if Romy and Michele were to take place today, they’d just become “businesswomen” on social media. They’d pretend that they started a law firm or a company called “Weinberger & White” (Romy and Michele’s last names, of course.)

“They even dressed up as Madonna for their senior prom – it doesn’t get better than that!”

You know you’ve made it when people dress up as you for Halloween. I think that goes for every celebrity, TV and movie character, or even food? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people dress up as Romy and Michele for Halloween. It’s a very cute look, as they’re known for their bright-colored mini dresses. Even 25 years later, people are still dressing up as Romy and Michele! What’s funny to me is that throughout the movie they’re referred to as outcasts from high school, however they dressed cooler than anyone else there. They even dressed up as Madonna for their senior prom – it doesn’t get better than that! Romy and Michele are style icons, in that they wear incredible outfits even to go to a laundromat. You know those people who dress up to travel on a plane? That’s who they are. They’re always put together and to me they are style goals. I haven’t met a sweatsuit I haven’t liked yet, but then again we’ve been living through a global pandemic. Can we still use that excuse to not get dressed up? Asking for a friend …

One thing that makes this movie legendary are the characters. At the forefront, we have Romy and Michele, who on paper probably look like ditzy characters. But the way Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino play them is so brilliant. I’ve mentioned their confidence already and I think that’s what is so appealing about them. Even if they don’t know something or the scene seems like “two girls with no clue,” they play these characters with so much heart that there’s nothing dumb about them. Also one of my favorites in this movie is Janeane Garofalo. She plays Heather Mooney, a badass gothic girl who has always had a crush on the guy who likes Michele (played by Alan Cumming.) She grows up to become a wealthy inventor of popular lady cigarettes. But what she’s most known for is telling Toby (played by Camryn Manheim, who is the perfect school-obsessed teen) to “fuck off.” She is so evil to this one nice student Toby and it’s the funniest gag in the whole movie. To this day, I still sometimes randomly say to people, “Fuck off, Toby!” Do they know the reference? No, so they think I’m a monster. (Don’t mess with me – I’m a New Yorker!) Everyone in this movie has a bully. It really lays out the hierarchy of high school cliques. There are the popular girls who make fun of Romy and Michele; there’s Heather Mooney who is rude to Toby; there is Billy the class dreamboat, who dates the mean girl; and then there’s Alan Cumming’s character, Sandy Frink – aka the nerd of the school who turns into a billionaire inventor. And, of course, the movie isn’t complete without a choreographed dance where Sandy, Romy and Michele stun all of their peers! Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” has no other place in my memory other than this movie.

Romy and Michele with Sandy Frink (Alan Cumming), dancing to “Time After Time.”

At its core, this movie is about friendship. Romy and Michele are there for each other (minus a big fight over their roles in the Post-It story) and take care of each other. They tell each other they’re cute, they have passions and love clothing, and they help lift each other up when they’re men and jobs and life get them down. Even when Sandy wants to dance with Michele, she asks to bring Romy along! It’s really awesome to see their friendship grow from high school and beyond. And maybe it’ll grow even more if we get a sequel! Recently, we were teased when Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino reunited at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. They came out in their character’s colors, and gave us a little Romy and Michele. Truly, it would be a dream come true. But if we get another movie, I think instead of the famous line, “I’m the Mary and you’re the Rhoda,” it would now probably have to be more like, “I’m the Kim and you’re the Khloe” … right? Happy 25th anniversary, Romy & Michele, and may this movie make us laugh time after time!

Anna Roisman is a comedian, host, writer and actor in NYC. Anna is known for hosting HQ Trivia and HQ Words on the Emmy-Nominated app. She is a regular comedian on the Buzzfeed series, “Did You See This?” Anna’s work has been featured in the Tribeca Film Festival, New York TV Festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal, People magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, VultureHuffington Post, Funny Or Die, Elite Daily, and more. She is the creator and host of the podcast Unemployed With Anna Roisman, and co-producer and host of Quickie Fest: The One Minute Movie Festival in NYC. She writes a bad movie column called “Am I The Only One Who Loves…” for Talkhouse. She also likes good movies too! Anna performs standup comedy and sings all over. For comedy videos, reels, and press, check out AnnaRoisman.com.