If Stand by Me was the definitive coming of age story for young boys, then Now and Then seems to trying to do the same thing for young girls. All the classic story beats are there, from four lifelong best friends who all seem poles apart in personality, a mysterious quest which tests their friendships and limits of their bravery and even the misunderstood adults who influence them along the way.
This isn’t to criticise Now and Then as it is a very well put together movie. The four leads act very well and bring their respective characters to life convincingly. Considering their age, they are very confident in their roles but this is little surprise considering they are made up of Christina Ricci, Thora Birch and the lesser known but no less impressive Gabby Hoffman and Ashleigh Aston Moore.
So Now and Then follows the same coming of age formula that these films all seem to follow but this is a comfortable watch. There are some funny moments, from bird poo, skinny dipping and a cute but awkward first kiss. There are some heartfelt moments, as characters admit their struggles, what is troubling them and how their lives aren’t as perfect as they seem and of course there are the dramatic scenes, where the girls find themselves in situations over their heads.
As watchable as Now and Then is, there are times when it becomes too melodramatic though. A misplaced scream or random outburst is more laughable and bizarre then giving then delivering the impactful emotional and dramatic moment it hoped for, while other times the girls seem to do things that teenage girls just wouldn’t do.
The biggest misstep is also in the waste of a solid adult cast. The movie is bookended by the adult versions of our four girls meeting to help with a new development in character Chrissy’s life. A lot seems to be made of the links between the young girls and their adult counterparts, which include Demi Moore, Rosie O’Donnell and Melanie Griffith. Unfortunately, these actors are wasted in scenes which last less than ten minutes, don’t ring true and become just as melodramatic as some of the worst parts their younger counterparts have to deliver.
Overall, Now and Then is a standard coming of age movie which brings some of what made Stand by Me so watchable but from a girl’s perspective. It is funny in places, will keep your interest throughout and has some impressive performances from a young cast. Its just a shame that it stumbles into melodrama at times and wastes a potentially decent adult cast.
Rating – 3
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