Formulaic comedy-drama about teens coming of age in 1970 has the novelty of being mostly about girls rather than boys. But that’s not enough to keep the pic – which even its makers describe as ‘a Stand by Me for girls’ – from seeming like a return trip to familiar ground.
Maiden effort of Demi Moore’s production company, pic obviously is a low-paying labor of love for all involved, including grownup stars Moore, Melanie Griffith, Rosie O’Donnell and Rita Wilson. But the adults do little more than provide marquee allure in brief bookending scenes that add little to rest of the pic.
For the most part, Now and Then is a showcase for four fine actresses in their early teens: Christina Ricci (Casper), Thora Birch (Patriot Games), Gaby Hoffmann (Sleepless in Seattle) and newcomer Ashleigh Aston Moore (no relation to Demi). They winningly play 12-year-old best friends who share confidences and misadventures during the summer of 1970.
Ricci is first among equals as Roberta, a sharp-witted tomboy who’s amusingly unsettled by her budding attraction to a cute neighbor boy. (None too plausibly, she grows up to be the smartmouthed doctor played by Rosie O’Donnell.) Birch is Tina, a flashy little dynamo who’s already rehearsing her Oscar acceptance speech. She grows up to be the much-married actress played by Melanie Griffith, which seems about right.
Ashleigh Aston Moore is Chrissy, an easily flustered prude who grows up to be the equally flustery and prudish Rita Wilson. And Hoffmann is Samantha, a wise-beyond-her-years philosopher. As grownup Samantha, a blocked writer, Moore provides pic’s melancholy narration.