22 June 2010


Twelve Things about Now and Then

12. The child stars of the 90s playing characters on the cusp of the 70s: proof that there's nothing like a double dose of nostalgia.

11. And what an interesting cusp it was . . .

"There are no perfect families," says Teeny, as she tries to comfort Samantha. And all the examples from the movies and TV that she can think of are families which lost a parent to death. Samantha is part of the first generation in which it was more common to lose a parent to divorce.

Factor in the disillusioned veteran of the Vietnam War and you know that this isn't just about four girls' coming of age, but a whole country's coming of age. (Well, at least from the Baby Boomer's point of view. Those Boomers really did feel like the centre of the universe, didn't they? This snotty Millennial should know! =P)

10. The opening sequence is full of stuff, and it sets up a scrapbook feel for the whole movie that doesn't actually fit. For it is the snarky Samantha who is the sole narrator, and she's not the type who tenderly tucks her memories away for posterity. She's really more likely to roll them up, smoke them and write her next book while high on them . . . or down on them, whichever.

It does make sense, though. Chrissy has preserved the past in plastic covers; Teeny has cosmetically altered it; and Roberta seems happy to live in the moment and not ponder things. Samantha is the writer who broods. Who else would have told this particular story--"the summer of crazy Pete," as she later puts it--out of the millions of memories they must have shared?

9. And really, only Samantha would begin by saying,

"You can't go home again."

This Thomas Wolfe quote is almost a cliche now, you know?

8. Now, am I the only one who finds it weird that they play "Truth or Dare" three times and never pick "Dare"?! (Well, it also makes sense that Samantha would record more of the "Truth" telling than the "Dare" doing.)

7. Now and Then has been called "Stand by Me for girls." I think that should deeply and irrevocably offend me, but it actually doesn't.

6. So what do you think of the casting? Do you believe that those four girls grew up into those four women?

Teeny: Thora Birch ---> Melanie Griffith

ThoraBirch young ---> MelanieGriffith young

Well, Griffith has clearly had a lot of work done since her childhood, so we can imagine that Teeny had some, too. And Birch and Griffith give Teeny the same range of affectations. I can buy this.

Samantha: Gaby Hoffman ---> Demi Moore

GabyHoffmann young ---> DemiMoore young

Having Moore do the voice overs while Hoffmann played the younger Samantha really worked wonders. And they may not have the same nose and lips, but they have the same thoughtful look in their eyes. Nice job!

Chrissy: Ashleigh Aston-Moore ---> Rita Wilson

AshleighAstonMoore young
(There are no "yearbook" pictures of a young Rita Wilson online. I guess she's just a private person.)

With no real basis for comparison, I have nothing to do but wonder why they didn't just cast a real "fat girl" to play Chrissy. Was Aston-Moore such a big child star (Pun not intended at all!!!) that it made better sense to make the poor thing pack on twenty pounds for this role???

Roberta: Christina Ricci ---> Rosie O'Donnell

ChristinaRicci young
(Nor are there any photos of a young Rosie O'Donnell . . . but I suppose that's just as well.)

Nope. I absolutely do not believe that A turned into B. Don't even argue with me. You know you can't see it, either.

5. But while we're on the subject . . . Did you know that Roberta's character was originally supposed to be a lesbian? The filmmakers changed things at the last minute, letting Chrissy mention that Roberta has a boyfriend. And now I don't know what's harder to believe: that Ricci grew up into O'Donnell or that a woman like O'Donnell's Roberta is living with a boyfriend.

4. Believe it or not, I was beautifully creeped out by the first seance in the cemetery. And there's always something sinister about a Tarot card reading. But these Horror elements aren't here to praise their innocence, but to bury it.

Which is kind of ironic, for this whole movie is really like those seances. Those fake seances. The living think they are helping the dead to rest in peace at last--but as William Faulkner (another great American novelist) observed: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Wolfe has a counterpoint in Faulkner, but I don't know if they're ever quoted together in stories like these.

3. At least we have this great last line:

Maybe Thomas Wolfe never got to go home again,
but I found my way there.
And I'm glad I did.

And now the question is whether this movie gave its audience of teen and tween girls false hope about being able to do that themselves someday. (But I only ask that because I'm bitter.)

2. Samantha Hoffs wrote and performed an original song for the soundtrack--but nobody remembers it.

My guess is that 95% of people who remember this movie and are asked to sing a song from it pick this one . . .

1. Since I can't think of a respectable Twelfth Thing, I'll just throw this random one in . . . When I watched this again the other night, I was amazed to see that my brother Camera Man looks a lot like Devon Sawa! =P

Image Sources: a) Now and Then poster, b) Young Melanie Griffith, c) Young Thora Birch, d) Young Ashleigh Aston-Moore, e) Young Demi Moore, f) Young Gaby Hoffmann, g) Young Christina Ricci


Jeanne C. said...

That's funny... I just watched this last week again. I absolutely loved this movie. Although I disagree with you on the point of Gabby Hoffman and Demi Moore being a good match. Ditto for Christina Ricci & Rosie O'Donnell... I thought they were a better match up than Gabby & Demi.
Lovely post!

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

I had completely forgotten this movie-- and the only thing I remember now is that I watched it and liked it at the time. In the pics you posted the Teenys look most alike but not so much on the movie cover. I'd agree about the eye expression of the Samanthas.

Enbrethiliel said...


Jeanne: How did you ever guess that when I write "Do not argue with me," what I really mean is, "Please argue with me"? ;-)

I actually kind of see why Ricci and O'Donnell were paired together, given the original plan for the character. But after they added the boyfriend at the last minute . . . not so much.

Looks really are tricky, aren't they? If the producers had cast unknowns or less established actresses (for both the girls and the women), they might have had more believable matches.

Lesa: It really was Moore's and Hoffmann's expressions that sold me on Samantha. (And I'll say it again: the voice overs did wonders for suspending my disbelief.) I wonder how much time the four actresses spent together to get the characters right.

Sullivan McPig said...

Never even heard of this movie, but I think my owner and voodoo Bride might love it.

Enbrethiliel said...


The whole movie has been uploaded on YouTube, so they can see it there if they don't mind watching it that way, Sully. =)

I think the movie had a very, very limited international release. It certainly didn't come to the Philippines in 1995, and I didn't hear of it until I visited my cousins in the United States in 1996, when it was already on VHS.

Jilmary Chastain said...

I actually saw a version of this movie with the Roberta character as a lesbian. She had a "crush" on Chrissy. I was disappointed when I bought the DVD and found that they had changed that.

Enbrethiliel said...


That's interesting, Jilmary! How did you get to see it? =)

Seeker of Truth said...

Sorry, I didn't see your query! I must have seen it on television (HBO, Showtime, etc...) because I distinctly remember Roberta casting long glances towards Chrissy, particularly when Chrissy was so excited about having the baby. Roberta was very protective of her - the movie showed more emotion from Roberta that isn't seen on the DVD that they have out now. I noticed the difference right away.

Enbrethiliel said...

No worries! And I'm sorry that I didn't see your answer after you came back! But as you can see, I've mostly moved on from this blog.

I'm a little fascinated now that there is at least one other version of Now and Then floating around in the world. Which one gets to be the "official" version then? And why did someone decide to release something different from the cinema release or the VHS/DVD into the wild, where only the truly observant viewers (or people who happen to get into a discussion after seeing different versions) would notice the changes?

Well, yeah, the obvious answer seems to be that someone didn't want to let go of the original vision for the movie, even if the more sanitised version had to be released. It's just really interesting to me that he (or she!) did it so quietly . . . and mysteriously.