Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michelle Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) have been best friends since high school in Tuscon, although they graduated ten years ago and now live in Los Angeles where they like to think they have done pretty well for themselves, living at the beach and clubbing every night they like. Okay, Michelle doesn't currently have a job, and Romy works as a cashier, and neither of them have boyfriends, but they truly enjoy each other's company which makes up for a lot. However one day Romy is behind her desk when an old school friend, Heather (Janeane Garofalo), appears...
Now-rich businesswoman Heather just wants to collect her car, but finds herself in a conversation with Romy where she inadvertently reveals their high school class is holding its ten year reunion, and although Romy and Michelle haven't been invited, they're understandably intrigued to see how those people they used to know have turned out. Mainly because the girls live in Los Angeles now and feel they have done far better with their lives than any of those who used to ignore them, or worse, bully them, so they don't exactly want to rub their noses in it, but it would be nice to make a point. So begins an adventure where they will learn a valuable lesson, blah blah blah.
If this is sounding like a sitcom episode, it may be no coincidence that director David Mirkin produced The Simpsons and writer Robin Schiff has also been employed in television comedy for most of her career, although this film was based on her stage play which Kudrow had taken the same role in. It may have been a little early for eighties nostalgia when it was released, but it went on to be a cult favourite what with its quasi-female Bill and Ted sense of humour and soundtrack lifted from the entirety of the Now That's What I Call Music series of that decade, with not two minutes going by without some vintage pop earworm being played. So on the surface this was strictly fluff.
And there was nothing wrong with that especially as Schiff's script was on Romy and Michelle's side all the way. It acknowledged they didn't behave admirably at times, and there is a sequence where they even fall out with each other thanks to an argument over who is the more attractive, but it's the bond of their friendship that makes them so vital. We are shown flashbacks to the school years where if they didn't have one another they wouldn't have had anyone at all, and if they cannot quite see that themselves, it's because they have so much fun in their best friend's company that maybe they didn't really need anyone else. Contrast that with Heather, who was so prickly that she effectively forced everyone away, then couldn't accept that nobody wanted to be her friend at all, and Alan Cumming's nerd who goes on be a billionaire ten years later yet still yearns for Michelle.
We also see that most of the cast are too old to pass as high school students, but that's by the by, the most important thing is the way in which school has moulded the personalities of the adults, not that Romy and Michelle are much different. Part of the reason to go back to a reunion is to see what everyone looks like now and if they have been successful or not, and that's the impetus the girls have for driving across the country, but they realise that their lives are not as impressive as they would like - what if they're the unsuccessful ones? Heaven forfend, so they begin to devise methods of appearing as if they've done very well, beginning with pretending to be rich businesswomen. One thing leads to another and they show up as the power suit-wearing inventors of Post-Its, plainly ridiculous but we admire their nerve, and feel for them when they're exposed as fools. Much of this was down to the never-cracking facade of the two leads, highly pleasing comic performances which rendered a fantasy of sorts as very cheering.