Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monologue: Michelle's Miracle Glue

Have we ever talked about Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion?
"I love it." "unh! Me, too."

So rewatchable, don't you think? Most of the laughs spring from the stupidly succinct sycophantic banter between Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michelle (Lisa Kudrow). They've been inseparable for over a decade but somehow they're still surprised by every shared feeling.

Romy: Oh my god I hate throwing up in public.
Michelle: Me too!
One scene that always cracks me up comes right after the best friends have had a rare fight on the way to their high school reunion. They've concocted a lame "business women" story that they invented post-it notes in order to impress their hateful former classmates.

But since they split up on the way to the reunion, they're both trying to use the same story. Michelle, already flailing in her attempt to impress the four bitches who made their high school years miserable, rethinks her story as she notices Romy telling the same one. She adjusts.
Actually I invented a special kind of glue.
The ringleader of this Arizona-division Heathers wants to catch Michelle in the lie "Oh really? Well then I'm sure you wouldn't mind giving us a detailed account of exactly how you concocted this miracle glue, would you?"

No.
Kudrow takes a hilarious frozen pause. Her comedic timing has always been superb. The way she enhances the comedy can really only be seen and heard. She's working within Michelle's very limited register and it's all very slight eye flashes and movements. There's also the occassional escaping unh sound which, in Kudrow's comic arsenal, is both the aural equivalent of an eyeroll and a nervous tic.
Well. Ordinarily when you make glue... first, you need to thermoset your resin. And then after it cools, you mix in an epoxide which is really just a fancy-schmancy name for any simple oxygenated adhesive, right?
Her confidence growing in the telling, which surprises even her, Kudrow's line readings begin to shift from wobbly recitation to educational sass.
And then I thought maybe just maybe you could raise the viscosity by adding a complex glucose derivative during the emulsification process.

And it turns out I was right.
The scene is already a good joke in concept. You've got scientific formulas tumbling out of the mouth of a ditzy blonde character (whose still very much in character). In the execution it's even better. Kudrow as Michelle doesn't even seem to know whether she's making this up on the spot or remembering it.

The punchline to her science lesson is sweet revenge. There's a shot of the queen bees in stunned silence. "I don't believe it. You must be the most successful person in our class."
Uh huh. And you're not. Bye!

There she goes. A business woman... 'From L.A.'

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recommended further reading: Adam's wonderful "Signatures: Lisa Kudrow"
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32 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

It's that final line reading that I always recall. "You're not. BYE." Kudrow has always been so talented while doing the most simplistic.

Tikabelle said...

"Wanna fold scarves?" "Okay!!"

I love this movie.

Derreck said...

it's one of those movies that i usually forget that i love. just when it's almost completely out of my head, i'll see that it's on Showtime or Starz and squeal with delight.

i love that line "That's right, Christie, Keep telling yourself that."

One of my all time favorite bitchy comments.

Tallsonofagun said...

I sooo wanted to love this movie when I first saw it, but I couldn't. I thought the actresses were great (including the especially dry Janeane Garofalo), but it ended up being a big disappointment because of the script. One particular scene that stands out that flopped for me was the argument they have out on the road by the car when one decides she is the Mary and the other the Rhoda. I remember thinking, why are they referencing the 25 year old Mary Tyler Moore show for laughs? Even though I understood the reference and was amused by it, no one in the theatre laughed at all. It was a movie aimed at young audiences that really didn't get much of the humor and it could have been so much better with just small tweeks of the script.

Maybe I need to see it again to appreciate it more, but it is definitely one of those movies that is in the "coulda, shoulda, woulda been great if..." category for me.

Goran said...

.. "Except for me.. it's like I gave birth to a baby girl.. only it's like this huge girl who smokes and says shit a lot.."

or "I'm the Mary, you're the Rodah!"

or "I lost my bra!"

or her various stunted 'Woo's when the car keeps stopping and starting as they set off on their trip back home.

That entire performance sustains a pitch of staggering comic brilliance in a way that almost nobody other than Judy Holliday and Jean Hagen has managed.

Really the whole movie is gold but Kudrow is beyond devastating.

It's one of my favourite performances of that decade, and yet Kudrow herself surpassed it the following year.

Caden said...

Romy: You know what, Michele?
Michele: Huh?
Romy: I think you are, like, the funnest person I know.
Michele: Me too! With you.

It just doesn't end any better than that.

Miss Topanga said...

Yes. This one is really one for repeat viewing. Totally agree on Kudrow's comedic timing. What a hilarious movie. I shall watch it soon again (you just reminded me)!

vatz said...

Lisa Kudrow is looking M-I-G-H-T-Y H.O.T.

Kimberly said...

Years ago, when starting a new job, each person was asked 3 questions. One of them being "What movie could you watch over & over again?". Personally, I picked A League of Their Own. The trainer chose this movie and I immediately yelled "Oh my God, me too!" Love this movie.

NATHANIEL R said...

unh. i love that so many of you are fans.

@tallsonofagun -- i would watch it again. I thought it was just a fun silly movie back when it premiered but now i like it much more.

@goran -- that she did. I loooooove that Opposite of Sex performance.

@Caden -- i love hte ending lines too. And they had me thinking "sequel!!!" only it never materialized. :(

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I love Lisa Kudrow so much :D I'm glad some truly appreciate her comedic gift...


She should be, by far, with Matthew Perry, the two Friends who had the most success. Although EVERYONE (and it's like, totally true) loves Jen's Rachel Green, I think the heart and soul of that show was really Phoebe's one-liners and Chandler's goofiness.


Why oh why nobody gives this woman a meaty part? Why the need to keep Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon and so many others (I'm looking at you Heigl!) replaying versions of themselves in stupid rom-coms when they should be more interested in making smart comedies for women like Tina Fey, Lisa Kudrow or Amy Poehler.

Dan Stephens said...

Yep - enjoyable stuff. I love the dance sequence to Time After Time.

bruno, el argentino said...

i think the dance sequence to staying alive at the disco represents how pathetic and adorable this two are. Thanks for remind me this film. I love Lisa and I agree: she deserve better oportunities

Catherine said...

I have become totally obsessed with this film over the course of this year. I saw it when I was younger, thought it was pretty funny but inconsequential. Then I came across it one night, playing late on tv, and I realised just how good it is. Now I own it on dvd and I've watched it maybe 4 times in the last 2 months. It never gets old!

"What business you gals in?"

*blank stares*

notanotherblog said...

Wasn't RDJ is this movie too? Romy and Michelle dancing to "Time After Time" with whoever it was was an amazing scene.

Catherine said...

It's Alan Cumming! He's so good in this film.

I love all the little visual jokes, too. In the dream sequence, the decorations in the hall where the reunion is being held are giant versions of the magnets the bitch girl stuck to Michelle's backbrace in the flashback. When they're working out in the gym wearing this ridiculously high platforms and then they go into the changing room and you see Romy take out another pair of platforms from her locker, showing us that she must have brought those initial shoes specially because she considered them to be appropriate gym footwear! In the Time After Time dance, Mira Sorvino is seriously busting out some legit ballet moves - she cracks me up - and Alan Cumming keeps looking straight into the camera.

I wanna go watch it again, right now.

Glenn said...

That movie is a comedy classic. Amazing stuff. And even Mira Sorvino is great, but Lisa is the definite star of the show. Such a shame that she doesn't really get to be in anything mainstream anymore. Only Don Roos projects (which she is always good in, yes).

Magicub said...

I'm a chemical engineer, and the Post it explanation it's actually TRUE. Can you believe it?

Tallsonofagun said...

I'm convinced then. I guess I'm gonna have to give it another viewing Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL R said...

I can believe it. The crazy thing is that when she's telling the story there's this moment -- i think it's around "epoxide" where you think "this is utter bullshit... and then you suddenly realize it's the truth and both of these feeligns are reflected in her performance.

so so funny

ShoNuff Lives said...

"do you have some sort of business women lunch special?"
"we're business women from la, we're doing tuscon next."
"uh, no, we don't have that."

how does lisa kudrow not get better roles? she's a masterful performer.

oh, and the name sandy frink never ceases to amuse me.

Ryan T. said...

Lisa Kudrow actually has a biology degree from Vassar College. So it'd be funny if she used some of that in that glue scene!

With that said, I *love* this movie like you have no idea. It really is super re-watchable.

And yes to whoever said that Lisa Kudrow, along with Matthew Perry, should be making the BIG bucks post-Friends. No offense to Jennifer Aniston, but damn it's just damn right.

Adam M. said...

Have you caught Kudrow's online series 'Web Therapy' yet? It's wonderful! Google and watch!

mrripley said...

I always preferred mira sorvino in this wasn't she like the next hot thing box office titan to be in 1997.

Hayden said...

That Lisa Kudrow makes my Best Actress lineup is no small feat in a year with the likes of Julie Christie (my win for Afterglow) and Helena Bonham Carter (in the performance that explains why people still haven't given up on her). Michelle is a fully realized comic confection and "she's just playing Phoebe" jabs make me cringe.

Cory Rivard said...

Weird! I just watched this movie two weeks ago for the first time in a decade.
It's very much a "whatever happened to..." movie. I miss Mira Sorvino. I miss Janeane Garofalo.
And note that starring as "The Cowboy", is Iron Man 2 scribe Justin Theroux.

Craig said...

This movie for me is one of those comedic gems that come along every decade or so that run contrary to what I think I wouldn't like, but end up loving. Most high school-based comedies are pretty lame and cliched, but this film, like Napoleon Dynamite (2004), far surpassed its plot with wit and sparkle.

NATHANIEL R said...

Hayden -- yeah, she's not that much like Phoebe other than sharing that divine Kudrow timing.

NATHANIEL R said...

@mrripley... Mira Sorvino was supposed to become a big star, yes.

she's so underrated really. I guess the Oscar came too swiftly. But she's usually enjoyable in movies.

Amanda said...

Kudrow has always been my favorite "friend". I've always thought she was the most talented and most complex of the six of them.

But I guess she pays the price of not being Brad Pitt's ex.

pat said...

i love lisa. always been my favorite from friends. i love her so much.

and that scene where she tells the bitches i hope your babies look like monkeys. so hilarious. you're the mary im the roda. so many golden moments.

BeyondBeautifulBabe said...

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