Now and Then (1995)

I remember reading a description of this movie as “Stand by Me’ with ‘Big Chill’ bookends,” and that captures the tone of this coming-of-age comedy extremely well. Led by an all-star cast of 1990s megastars (which includes Demi Moore, Christina Ricci, Rosie O’Donnell and Melanie Griffith, among others), it follows an eventful 1960s summer for an Indiana quartet of friends, and it’s so effective at rooting itself in a specific time and place that I was swept up in nostalgia, even though I wasn’t born for decades after the 1960s. The soundtrack is absolutely lovely, with a basketful of well-selected classics that stamp each scene with a distinctive atmosphere, in particular a segment that follows the four friends as they bike to another township. The four young actresses each play their role with panache and aplomb, in particular Gaby Hoffmann, whose expressive face registers heightened intelligence and sensibility throughout. The aforementioned “Big Chill bookends” are interesting but they do run a bit long, but it’s not enough to take anything away from this lovely, pleasant, Sunday-afternoon type of movie that’s survived many generations for obvious reasons.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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