Beautiful Girls

It's the usual drill about small-town guys who turn 30 and still fuck up with women. What saves director Ted Demme's comic talkfest from sitcom slickness is a quirky script by Scott Rosenberg and an appealing cast. Matt Dillon is Tommy, the former high school Romeo reduced to plowing snow and fantasizing about his ex-girl (Lauren Holly) while mistreating his new one (Mira Sorvino). Tommy's buddy Paul (Michael Rapaport) also plows snow, neglects his girl (Martha Plimpton) and fantasizes about supermodels. Willie (Timothy Hutton) plays piano bars in New York, but he returns for a school reunion. The guys hang at a bar owned by Stinky (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and flirt with his gorgeous cousin Andera (Uma Thurman). But Willie loses his heart to the beautiful Marty (Natalie Portman), whose wisdom floors him. There's a problem — she's only B. Willie doesn't act on his attraction, although Paul prods him ("If they can cut their own food, it's OK"). In a relationship that skirts bad taste, Hutton and Portman make tender movie magic, giving this big-screen spin on Friends its only moments of true romantic yearning.

From The Archives Issue 350: August 20, 1981