Beautiful Girls (film)

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Beautiful Girls
Beautiful girlsmovieposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTed Demme
Produced byCary Woods
Written byScott Rosenberg
Music byDavid A. Stewart
CinematographyAdam Kimmel
Edited byJeffrey Wolf
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • February 9, 1996 (1996-02-09)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$10.6 million[1]

Beautiful Girls is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Ted Demme and written by Scott Rosenberg. Its story follows New York jazz pianist Willie Conway, as he heads back to his hometown of Knights Ridge, Massachusetts for his high school reunion, where he finds his friends evaluating their lives and relationships. It stars Matt Dillon, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Plimpton, Natalie Portman, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino and Uma Thurman.

The film was produced by Cary Woods and was released on February 9, 1996, by Miramax. It grossed $2.8 million during its opening weekend and $10.6 million worldwide.[2] It received positive reviews and has a 79% approval rating based on 47 votes on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


New York jazz pianist Willie returns to his hometown of Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts for his ten year high school reunion, staying with his widower father and younger brother. He reunites with three old friends: Mo is a successful family man, while Paul and Tommy, who own a snowplowing business, are having relationship issues. Paul was recently dumped by his longtime girlfriend Jan because he refused her ultimatum of marriage. Believing that she is now seeing Victor the meat cutter, he vindictively blocks her driveway with snow every night. Tommy is cheating on his girlfriend Sharon with his married high school sweetheart Darian.

Willie meets 13 year-old neighbor girl Marty, and they strike up a witty rapport. She presses him about his relationship: Willie has been with his girlfriend Tracy for a year, but is unsure if he wants to marry her. He is considering taking a steady job as a salesman, but Mo urges him not to quit his music. Paul desperately proposes to Jan, but she turns him down. Sharon argues with Tommy about his infidelity, and seeks advice from her girlfriends. The outspoken Gina advises her to break up with Tommy, but Sharon tries to salvage the relationship by planning him a surprise birthday party. When the attractive Andera comes to town from Chicago, the guys compete for her attention. The next day, Gina lectures Willie and Tommy about men's unrealistic expectations of women set by supermodels and pornography. Willie feels jealous when he sees that Marty has a boyfriend.

Darian shows up at Tommy's surprise party drunk and openly tries to seduce him, causing Sharon to leave heartbroken. Tommy drives Darian home but refuses her advances, and unsuccessfully tries to patch things up with Sharon. Willie tells Mo about his feelings for Marty, but Mo reminds him how young she is and says that Willie just doesn't want to grow up. Willie encounters Marty again, and she says that she has broken up with her boyfriend because she is interested in Willie, and asks him to wait five years until she is 18 and they can be together. Willie declines, saying that she will outgrow her feelings for him as she matures.

Paul takes Andera out in an attempt to make Jan jealous. Andera plays along, but when Paul tries to kiss her she smacks him and leaves. Willie chastises Paul about his obsession with supermodels; Paul responds that beautiful girls represent hope and promise. Tommy breaks things off with Darian, but she states her intent to win him back at the reunion. Andera approaches Willie, turning down his flirtations but accompanying him to Paul's ice shanty, where they discuss their respective relationships. Willie misses the emotional rush of new love, but Andera feels truly happy with her boyfriend and returns to Chicago the next day. Tracy arrives from New York, and Willie's feelings for her are rekindled. Marty is downhearted by this, but Willie assures her that she will grow up to do amazing things.

At the reunion, Darian is confronted by a former classmate who she bullied; he tells her that she was beautiful, but "mean as a snake". Tommy skips the reunion to avoid Darian, but encounters her husband Steve and his friends at a bar. Steve reveals that he knows about the affair; a fight ensues, and Tommy is badly beaten. Learning of this, the guys rush to Steve's house to confront him. Steve calls his friends, but Willie pushes their car into a snowbank using Paul's snowplow. Mo is about to beat Steve but stops himself when Steve's daughter comes to the door. Darian arrives home in the aftermath of the confrontation. Tommy ends up in the hospital with a concussion and two broken ribs. Sharon stays with him overnight, and they make up. Paul, overcome with emotion, clears Jan's driveway of snow.

Willie says his goodbyes the next day, having decided to head back to New York with Tracy and not to take the sales job. Paul announces that Jan and Victor are engaged. Willie introduces Tracy to Marty, and kisses Marty on the cheek before departing.


Additional minor roles were played by Kristen Rossmore as Steve and Darian's daughter Kristen; Camille D'Ambrose as Sharon's mother; Martin Ruben as Jan's restaurant boss Chip; Allison Levine as a waitress; Earl R. Burt as a bartender; Trent Nicholas Thompson and Nicole Ranallo as Mo and Sarah's children Michael and Cheryl; Joyce Lacey and Matthew Nathen Castens as classmates at the reunion; Ollie Osterberg, Sterling Robson, and Edward Kaspszak as Steve's friends who beat up Tommy; Herbert Ade as a bar owner; Ben Gooding as a customer; and Frank Anello as Irv. "Lucky the Saint Bernard" is credited as Paul's dog "Elle Macpherson", named after the supermodel.


Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg was living in Needham, Massachusetts, waiting to see if Disney would use his script for Con Air. He said in an interview, "It was the worst winter ever in this small hometown. Snow plows were coming by, and I was just tired of writing these movies with people getting shot and killed. So I said, 'There is more action going on in my hometown with my friends dealing with the fact that they cannot deal with turning 30 or with commitment'—all that became Beautiful Girls."[4]

Originally, James L. Brooks was interested in directing the film, according to actress Leslie Mann, who auditioned for a role but was not cast.[5]

Ted Demme had the entire cast come to Minneapolis and live together for two to three weeks so that they could bond. Filming took place in the Twin Cities Metro Area communities of Edina, Marine-on-St. Croix and Stillwater, with Demme wanting to make sure that the setting was a character unto itself. He "wanted to make it look like it's Anytown USA, primarily East Coast. And I also wanted it to feel like a real working class town".[6] To this end, Demme drew inspiration from Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978). "The first third of the film is really an amazing buddy movie with those five actors. You could tell they were best friends, but they all had stuff amongst them that was personal to each one of them".[6]

Principal filming took place between February 28 - May 7, 1995.[7]

October Road[edit]

Scott Rosenberg co-produced and co-wrote for the 2007-2008 TV series October Road. The show is loosely based on what happened after Beautiful Girls came out and how his friends reacted to a movie about their lives. Both Beautiful Girls and October Road take place in the fictional Massachusetts town of Knights Ridge, and have similar characters, jobs, plot lines.


Beautiful Girls: Music from the Motion Picture
Beautiful Girls.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJanuary 30, 1996
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[8]
1."That's How Strong My Love Is"Roosevelt JamisonRoland Gift6:18
2."Be for Real"Frederick KnightAfghan Whigs4:16
3."Easy to Be Stupid"Harold ChichesterHowlin' Maggie4:51
4."Me and Mrs. Jones"Billy Paul4:48
  • Regan Hagar
  • Shawn Smith
  • John Hoag
  • Cory Kane
6."Graduation Day"Chris IsaakChris Isaak3:10
7."Beautiful Girl"Pete Droge & the Sinners4:34
8."I'll Miss You"Aaron FreemanWeen2:56
9."Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe"Barry WhiteAfghan Whigs5:21
10."Could It Be I'm Falling in Love"
  • Melvin Steals
  • Mervin Steals
The Spinners4:31
12."Groove Me"King FloydKing Floyd3:01
13."The Stroll"
The Diamonds2:31
14."Sweet Caroline"Neil DiamondNeil Diamond3:24
Total length:57:16

Additional tracks (not included on soundtrack)[edit]

1."The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)"The Greg Kihn Band 
2."I Got You"Neil FinnSplit Enz 
3."I Ran (So Far Away)"
A Flock Of Seagulls 
4."Will It Go Round in Circles"Billy Preston 
5."Locomotive Breath"Ian AndersonJethro Tull 
6."Never on Sunday"Manos HatzidakisBernie Wyte and his Orchestra 
7."Walk on the Wild Side"Lou ReedLou Reed 
8."Fool to Cry"Rolling Stones 
9."Honey White"Mark SandmanMorphine 


Box office[edit]

The film was released on February 9, 1996 in 752 theaters, grossing $2.7 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $10.5 million in North America.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received fairly positive reviews and currently has a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "What's nicest about the film is the way it treasures the good feelings people can have for one another."[9] In The Washington Post, Desson Howe praised Natalie Portman's performance: "As a self-described 'old soul' who connects spiritually with Hutton (they're both existential searchers), she's the movie's most poignant and witty presence."[10]

However, Jack Mathews, in the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the film was "about as much fun as a neighborhood bar on a Tuesday night. Its crisis: not much happening."[11] In her New York Times review Janet Maslin wrote that Natalie Portman got the film's "archest dialogue", and called her "a budding knockout, and scene-stealingly good even in an overly showy role."[12]


  1. ^ a b "Beautiful Girls (1996)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "Beautiful Girls". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  3. ^ Beautiful Girls (1996), retrieved 2020-02-17
  4. ^ Alexander, Peter. "Scott Rosenberg: Off to a Beautiful Start". The Best Video Guide.
  5. ^ Ryan, Kyle (September 28, 2007). "Random Roles: Leslie Mann". The Onion A.V. Club. Archived from the original on February 12, 2008. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Griffin, Dominic (1996). "An Interview With Ted Demme, Director of Beautiful Girls". Film Threat.
  7. ^ "Beautiful Girls (1996) Filming & Production". IMDb. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  8. ^ "Beautiful Girls - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 9, 1996). "Beautiful Girls review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 24, 2006. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  10. ^ Howe, Desson (February 9, 1996). "Beautiful Girls review". Washington Post. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  11. ^ Mathews, Jack (February 9, 1996). "High School Buddies Take Stock in 'Girls'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  12. ^ "Beautiful Girls review". The New York Times. February 9, 1996. Retrieved March 12, 2015.

External links[edit]