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Jan 13, 2011

Burning Questions: Beautiful Girls

[Editor's note: WARNING - although it remains at least somewhat amusing, the following post is more or less pointless. This is the danger of writing a post an hour into a film, as the Burning Question was eventually answered. At one, teeny, tiny point in the film Willie mentions his age of 29 in relation to Marty's 13 years. Of course, it is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the ages of the characters...]

Timothy Hutton - 35
Matt Dillon - 31
Michael Rappaport - 25
Noah Emmerich - 30
Max Perlich - 27
Pruitt Taylor Vince - 35
Lauren Holly - 32

Those are all the approximate ages of the stars of Beautiful Girls at the time of its release (it came out in early 1996, so I just went with their ages in '95). The film centers on Timothy Hutton's Willie, who has returned home to upstate New York (I think; not sure if it's really specified) to answer some life questions and, more directly, attend his high school reunion.

Now, I know this is Hollywood. People play above and below their ages all of the time. Most of the time, this is done with twentysomething actors playing high school students (Alan Ruck, I'm looking at you), but you'll see all varieties of this in just about every film. Hell, Double Down Trent himself was called in for an audition for the part of an 11-year old at the age of 24!

So my problem isn't so that so much (well, maybe it is - I'll get to that in a sec). I just can't tell which reunion this is supposed to be! 10 year? 15 year? 20 year? (Matt Dillon's character even has a birthday party during the film. How old is he? Who the hell knows?) Actors not playing their roles doesn't matter, but the film is about a group of people at a certain stage in their lives, and if I can't tell what stage that is, how am I supposed to feel about where they are? Rappaport's Paul lives like a 15-year old with pictures of supermodels taped upon his wall. Sad and pathetic even at 28, but worlds more desperate for a 38-year old. Hutton's Willie is giving up on his dream of being a musician, leaving it to potentially take a job selling office furniture. Am I so old to think that 28 is awfully young to give up on your passion like that?

I'm left to assume that this is their 10-year reunion. It makes the most sense, I suppose - who goes out of their way to go to a 15-year reunion? Do they really have those? But then, maybe I do take issue, because Tim Hutton, charming as he is, is having a hell of a hard time convincing me that he's 28. To make matters worse, the then 24-year old David Arquette plays his still-living-at-home younger brother. Is he supposed to be 16 or is developmentally challenged? Noah Emmerich could pass for 48. Pruitt Taylor Vince? You don't want to know.

I'd feel better if it were a 15-year deal - at least then, I could reconcile all of their potential ages in my head.

Coincidentally, I'd watched part of Zack and Miri Make a Porno the night before. Obvious 10-year reunion. Neither Banks nor Rogen nor Justin Long nor Branden Routh could possibly be considered anything but a group of 28-year olds in the movie.

And that's all I'm asking for.

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