From the Prude, the Slut, the Tomboy, and the Brain
Updated: May 26
There's something magical that happens when we watch movies, right? They are able to transport us to a time or place, take us back to a memory, maybe a smell even. For me, there is a movie that has always had a lasting impact on me as a person; "Now and Then". So I wanted to take a look back at this favorite and assess why. Why has it stuck with me all these years?
"Now and Then", a coming of age story told in two timelines: the past and the present of four friends. Starring Demi Moore/Gaby Hoffman (Samantha), Melanie Griffith/Thora Birch (Teeny), Rosie O'Donnell/Christina Ricci (Roberta), and Rita Wilson/Ashleigh Aston Moore (Chrissy).
So when this movie first came out, I was 10 years old. I have to say I was most excited to see Rosie O'Donnell ("The Flintstones"), Christina Ricci ( "The Addams Family"), and Thora Birch ("Hocus, Pocus" ya'll). So over the years I have watched this over a dozen times; and while the magnitude of having such a large female cast full of A-list adult and teen actors was lost upon me at my first initial viewing: what did stick with me was a movie full of girls, about girl stuff, talked about by girls!!!!
So, the other day I decided to sit down, rewatch, and really analyze why this movie has stuck with me so hard over the years. One reason might be because it deals with parent separation and divorce.When I first watched this, my parents had also separated and I was able to feel a connection to Samantha's character because as a young preteen myself, I was going through some very big and conflicting emotions. There is a line in the movie "There are no perfect families, its normal for things to be shitty." This was in reference to Samantha saying she wished she could be part of the perfect families she sees onT.V. and Teeny pointing out most of them are blended families anyway. There was actually a really hilarious foreshadowing line that Teeny says at the end of that same conversation that goes; "in another 20 years, half the population will be divorced" Samanthas answer "I find that really hard to believe". Seeing as the summer the four teens are in, is the seventies that prediction was totally right!!
There are a couple of seance scenes within the movie that has the girls contacting the dead. I found it so funny to watch now because my sisters and I used to think we were witches or at the very least charmed in some way. Of course that all got amplified when The Craft and Charmed actually did come out. Playing light as a feather, was not lost upon me and my own three sisters. Four sisters.....four elements........come on!! That's angsty teenage girl fantasy right there!
PUDDING BOOBS!! I remember a very brief stint of stuffing my bra. Alas, I only went with the tissue paper method.; but they never held their shape!! It wasn't just false advertising to who ever was looking but to myself as well! Plus, who has the energy to keep going to the bathroom to refluff, readjust, and refresh your deflating tissue boobs!! Well lots of teenage girls actually. No shade ya'll but we should have just did what Teeny did and had pudding boobs!!!
There was a traumatic scene where Roberta's character fakes her own death by drowning. I didn't realize that I kind of have always had anxiety; it didn't consciously manifest itself to me as something I deal with until after I had my children. Most specifically after my first son when my post party anxiety went through the roof. You know how some people, at the end of the day; go over their blessings, or think over all the positive things that happened, or say a little shoutout for what they're thankful for? Well, my brain thinks of every possible way I could have died. Realistically or far fetched; and it plays in my minds eye, over and over. Shifting perspectives and degrees of torment. Once I got married this became ways my husband and I would die. Usually a freak accident of falling down the stairs leading in broken necks or being T-boned in traffic. Now these anxiety induced visions include my children. I'll spare the current examples but to say I strongly related to that scene and that character even then, even at just 10 years old is an understatement.
To lighten the mood, shortly after, the girls caught up with their arch rivals. Including one of my first boy crushes ( I see you, Devon Sawa). Catching the rival boys skinny dipping and had a discussion about hard-ons and had the girls cursing. Which makes me think would this movie even still be rated PG-13 now?
But that's what this movie did it took hard topics and covered the premise in sugar and humor. But if you paused and just took a second you would see so many layers, complexity, and deeper issues. That even at 10, or 15, 0r 25, this movie and others like it can still resonate with so many people long after you've watched them. One of the things I loved most about this movie was the showcase of the different types of girls you could be and while ridiculously cliché; you were bound to see yourself in one or all of them.
In this movie there's the prude (Chrissy), the tomboy (Roberta), the promiscuous one (Teeny), and the smart one (Samantha). Again on the surface they were just their "type" but they were all so much more than that! You could see yourself as Chrissy, who was adorably naive to the point she believed the "garden hose waters your flower" and that's how you get pregnant story her mom told her. Or you could see yourself as Roberta, tortured over her mothers untimely death and the anger and resentment that brings. Or maybe you were like Teeny, with her overconfidence and need to be the center of attention because she was ignored at home. Or, maybe you were like Samantha, who was conflicted about who to even exert her anger to over her parents divorce. Or maybe you were like me and saw yourself as them all!
"Now and Then" didn't shape the woman I am today, or mold me in some fashion; but by revisiting it periodically maybe it did help me deal with the very big, real, and complex issues going on around me that I wasn't able to process myself. So thank you Roberta, Teeny, Samantha, and Chrissy; I owe ya!!!