Now and Then (film)

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Now and Then
A photobooth filmstrip showing four girls, and a polaroid photo showing four women.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLesli Linka Glatter
Written byI. Marlene King
Produced byDemi Moore
Suzanne Todd
CinematographyUeli Steiger
Edited byJacqueline Cambas
Music byCliff Eidelman
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • October 20, 1995 (1995-10-20) (United States)
  • June 7, 1996 (1996-06-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[1]
Box office$37.6 million[2]

Now and Then is a 1995 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Lesli Linka Glatter and starring Christina Ricci, Rosie O'Donnell, Thora Birch, Melanie Griffith, Gaby Hoffmann, Demi Moore, Ashleigh Aston Moore, and Rita Wilson. The supporting cast features Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Cloris Leachman, and Bonnie Hunt, among many others. The plot follows four women who recount a pivotal summer they shared together as adolescents in 1970. It is considered a cult classic.

It was filmed largely in the Country Walk subdivision off Coffee Bluff Road in Savannah, Georgia (called Shelby, Indiana in the movie), using the Gaslight Addition and Old Town Cemetery, highlighting the downtown area. Additional filming was done in Statesboro, Georgia in locations including the Bulloch County Court House (also featured in the film 1969) and the building now housing the Averitt Center for the Arts.

On July 18, 2012, it was announced that ABC Family would develop the film into a television series by I. Marlene King, who wrote it and adapted Pretty Little Liars,[3][4] but the project did not move past the development stage. Upon release, the film received generally unfavorable reviews. It was a moderate financial success, grossing $37.5 million against a $12 million budget.


Set in modern-day, four childhood friends, anti-social sci-fi author Samantha Albertson (Demi Moore), glitz and glamour-loving actress Tina "Teeny" Tercell (Melanie Griffith), dry-humored gynecologist Dr. Roberta Martin (Rosie O'Donnell), and content homemaker Chrissy DeWitt (Rita Wilson), reunite in their small Indiana hometown of Shelby to support Chrissy, who is heavily pregnant and expected to give birth to her first child any day. Narrated by Samantha, the story focuses on the summer of 1970, when the girls, led by her twelve-year-old self (Gaby Hoffmann) sought to earn enough money to purchase a tree house to place in Chrissy's backyard in their affluent suburban neighborhood, the Gaslight Addition, and how they overcame major personal struggles, Samantha in her parents' divorce and her mother's subsequent dating, Teeny (Thora Birch) in her pursuit of stardom and good looks, Roberta (Christina Ricci) in overcoming her mother's death and the embarrassment she experiences due to her developing breasts, and Chrissy's (Ashleigh Aston Moore) naivety about sex and life in general due to her mother's overprotective nature. Also, the girls, motivated by Samantha's interest in the occult, regularly participate in seances.

One night, the girls sneak out to the cemetery to perform a seance. A cracked tombstone convinces them they have resurrected the spirit of a young boy identified only as Dear Johnny, who died in 1945 at the age of 12. Intrigued, they search for information at the library but find nothing.

Later, while heading for the library in a nearby town, the girls spy the Wormer brothers skinny-dipping in the lake. To retaliate for a prank they played on them, the girls steal their clothes, tossing them onto the road while riding off. At the library, Roberta discovers an article about her mother being killed in a car accident: she was hit head on, trapped in her car for an hour, and then later died of massive head trauma and internal bleeding--facts previously unknown to her. Samantha finds an obituary that briefly mentions Dear Johnny and his mother tragically dying, but many of the pages are missing, leaving the cause of their deaths a mystery.

While riding back to their town, the girls encounter a hitchhiking Vietnam veteran. They ask him questions about the war and his time there. He is predominantly evasive and tells them their parents aren't always right--something that Samantha loudly agrees with.

The girls then visit local psychic Wiladene, who determines Dear Johnny was murdered. On their way home, they meet up with local neighbourhood kids at a pick up game of softball. A local boy insults Roberta who begins fighting with him; after the fight is broken up, he insults her deceased mother and Samantha tackles him to begin fighting again.

Samantha goes home and unexpectedly meets Bud Kent, a man her newly divorced mother invited to dinner for their first date. She is standoffish to Bud, who accidentally spills wine on his shirt; her mother gives him one of her ex-husband's old bowling shirts he had left behind. Upset, Samantha storms out and flees to Teeny's house where she is on the roof watching Love Story at the drive-in movie next door. They hang out in the tree house display at the store, where Samantha confesses her parents are getting a divorce. Teeny comforts her and breaks her favourite necklace in two, giving one half to her as a "best friends for life" bracelet.

On their way home during a thunderstorm, Samantha drops her bracelet in a storm drain. When she climbs in to retrieve it, the water rises, trapping her. Crazy Pete, a local old man who only comes out at night to ride his bike, rescues her. He asks them why they're afraid of him, and after they tell him it's scary that he only comes out at night, he says he prefers not to be around people. Grateful for his actions, they now see him differently. At the same time, Roberta is playing basketball in her driveway when Scott Wormer suddenly arrives. They briefly play together, and question why they fight all the time before sharing a kiss. Later, adult Samantha notes that Roberta has stopped taping her breasts after this happened.

The girls consult Samantha's grandmother about Dear Johnny's death. She declines to discuss the murders, saying it took her a long time to forget about that tragedy. After she leaves with friends to play bingo, the girls climb through a window into the attic where Samantha's grandfather had collected and saved old newspapers. They discover from an article that Jonathan Sims and his mother, Beverly Anne, were shot and killed when they interrupted a burglary; father and husband, Peter, came home to find their bodies. Roberta becomes upset and angry that two innocent people were killed and that her mother died violently, contrary to what she was told. Samantha announces that her parents are getting divorced, and the girls make a pact to always be there for one another.

To put Dear Johnny's soul to rest, the girls go to the cemetery to perform another seance. His tombstone suddenly rises surrounded by bright light. A figure appears from behind, but it is only the groundskeeper who chastises them for "playing" in the cemetery and explains that the tombstone was damaged, is being replaced, and he was the one who cracked it. Realizing they never resurrected Dear Johnny, they agree to stop the seances. While leaving, they notice Crazy Pete, and Samantha follows him back to the tombstone. Realizing that he is Peter, she comforts him, while he advises her not to dwell on things. Some time after, the tree house is finally bought, and Samantha narrates, "The treehouse was supposed to bring us more independence. But what the summer actually brought was independence from each other."

The film returns to 1991, and Chrissy goes into labor and gives birth to a baby girl. Later, in their old tree house, Roberta reveals that Crazy Pete died the previous year. They then discuss how happy they are in life and make another pact to visit more often.


Main characters[edit]

  • Samantha Albertson (Gaby Hoffmann/Demi Moore) narrates the film. As a girl, she is considered "weird", and believes in the paranormal and conducts the seances in the cemetery with her friends, who for the most part believe it to be all pretend. From the outside, her home life appears normal with her parents and younger sister, Angela. However, her parents had been having marital issues for some time now, much to the point that it had reached a level of consistency that never seemed to bother her. However, this came to an abrupt change when one night, her father moves out, and within a few weeks she learns her mother is seeing another man named Bud Kent. As an adult, she is a popular science-fiction author who has commitment issues. At age 12, she was the most invested in the mystery of Dear Johnny, whose spirit the girls believe they have resurrected from his tombstone. She alone learns the truth behind his death, and receives valuable advice that later helps her come to terms with her current struggles in life.
  • Roberta Martin (Christina Ricci/Rosie O'Donnell) is the proclaimed tomboy of the girls, stemming primarily from her upbringing in a family consisting of her father and three older brothers, her mother having been killed in a car accident when she was four. As a girl, she tapes her breasts to flatten them, plays sports, and never hesitates to fight a boy. She usually leads the girls in their rivalry with the Wormer brothers, but eventually shares a kiss with Scott. Afterward, she no longer tapes her breasts, indicating that she accepts that she is growing into a woman. Her struggle to come to terms with her mother's death is highlighted in the film when she fakes her own death before her friends by pretending to have drowned while they were swimming, as well as in another instance in which Samantha recalls her having jumped off the roof and pretended to have broken her neck earlier that summer. As an adult, she is an obstetrician and lives with her boyfriend. At the end of the film, she delivers Chrissy's baby. Although it is never shown or mentioned who her boyfriend is the film hints that it might be Scott.
  • Chrissy DeWitt (Ashleigh Aston Moore/Rita Wilson) was raised by an overbearing, fastidious mother (Bonnie Hunt) who sheltered her. Her naivete, particularly about all things sexual, is often laughed at by her friends. She is the "good girl", who chastises the others for cussing (as children and adults). Being the most responsible, she closely monitors the "tree house money" they are saving. She always questions the others' schemes, but is fiercely loyal to them. As an adult, she marries the nerdy Morton Williams, and they live in her childhood home and later have a baby girl. The pending birth of her first child brings Samantha and Teeny back to their hometown.
  • Tina "Teeny" Tercell (Thora Birch/Melanie Griffith) lives with her rich country club parents who are rarely around, which according to Samantha's narration is, "a typical upbringing for actors and pathological liars". She loves glamour, dressing up, and using makeup, and watches the films at the drive-in movie from her rooftop. Among the girls, she is the most interested in sexuality and boys and often flirts. She desires a bigger bust, and has breast implants when she's an adult. She is now a successful actress and has had multiple marriages. The limousine she arrives in is later used to transport Chrissy to the hospital when she goes into labor.


  • Devon Sawa as Scott Wormer, one of the Wormer brothers who bullies the girls but later reforms and shares a kiss with Roberta.
  • Lolita Davidovich as Mrs. Albertson, mother of Samantha and Angela who recently got divorced and gets a new boyfriend, Bud Kent.
  • Rumer Willis as Angela Albertson, (credited as Willa Glen) sister of Samantha who misses her father dearly but takes a quick liking to her mother's new boyfriend, Bud Kent.
  • Cloris Leachman as Grandma Albertson, mother of Mr. Albertson and grandmother of Samantha and Angela. She becomes very upset when her son leaves and worries dearly about her granddaughters. She is an avid poker and bingo player.
  • Hank Azaria as Bud Kent, Mrs. Albertson's boyfriend whom she gets after her husband leaves. Angela takes a quick liking to him but Samantha doesn't. He volunteers to take them to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C..
  • Bonnie Hunt as Mrs. DeWitt, mother of Chrissy who shelters her and uses plants and gardening to explain sex to her and also informs her that all hippies are sex fiends.
  • Janeane Garofalo as Wiladene, a diner waitress and spiritual reader and adviser who the girls visit to tell them that they've been contacted by Dear Johnny's spirit to which she tells them that he and his mother, Beverly Anne, were murdered.
  • Walter Sparrow as Crazy Pete, an old man who only comes out at night and scares the girls but they later learn he is nice after he rescues Samantha. He is later revealed to be Peter Sims, the father of Jonathan and husband of Beverly Anne.
  • Bradley Coryell as Clay Wormer, one of the Wormer brothers who bullies the girls.
  • Travis Robertson as Roger Wormer, one of the Wormer brothers who bullies the girls.
  • Justin Humphrey as Eric Wormer, one of the Wormer brothers who bullies the girls.
  • Brendan Fraser as the Vietnam veteran (uncredited), a soldier who fought in Vietnam whom the girls meet while riding their bikes and whom Samantha might have developed a crush on. He informs them that although their parents are adults they're not always right.


On Rotten Tomatoes, it had a 30% approval rating based on reviews from 20 critics, with an average rating of 5/10.[5] On Metacritic it has a score of 50% based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[6] It was acclaimed by audiences and has garnered a large cult following since its release.[7]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the story, saying it was "made of artificial bits and pieces" whereas "What distinguished Stand by Me was the psychological soundness of the story: We could believe it and care about it." Ebert instead praised another film about girlhood The Man in the Moon for its truthful storytelling and said that in comparison this film was "a gimmicky sitcom."[8] Joe Leydon of Variety praised the cast, calling the film "a showcase for four fine actresses in their early teens." [9]


Columbia Records released a soundtrack album on October 17, 1995. It was made up of tunes from the 1960s and 1970s.

The following songs appear in the film, but not on the soundtrack:

One of the songs is anachronistic for a story set in the summer of 1970: "Knock Three Times" was released in 1971.

  1. "Sugar, Sugar" – The Archies (2:45)
  2. "Knock Three Times" – Tony Orlando and Dawn (2:54)
  3. "I Want You Back" – The Jackson 5 (2:53)
  4. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" – Stevie Wonder (2:39)
  5. "Band of Gold" – Freda Payne (2:53)
  6. "Daydream Believer" – The Monkees (2:49)
  7. "No Matter What" – Badfinger (2:59)
  8. "Hitchin' a Ride" – Vanity Fare (2:55)
  9. "All Right Now" – Free (5:29)
  10. "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" – Supremes/Temptations (3:06)
  11. "I'll Be There" – The Jackson 5 (3:56)
  12. "Now and Then" – Susanna Hoffs (5:34)

Varèse Sarabande issued an album of Cliff Eidelman's score on October 24, 1995.

  1. "Main Title" (3:05)
  2. "Remembrance" (1:57)
  3. "A Secret Meeting" (2:11)
  4. "On the Swing" (1:26)
  5. "It's My Mom" (2:32)
  6. "Spirits Are Here" (2:17)
  7. "Sam's Dad Leaves" (1:56)
  8. "It's a Girl" (1:48)
  9. "Roberta Fakes Death" (1:26)
  10. "Best Friends for Life" (3:07)
  11. "Pete Saves Sam" (2:29)
  12. "The Pact" (3:10)
  13. "No More Seances" (1:44)
  14. "Rest in Peace Johnny" (4:22)


  1. ^ Kaplan, Ilana (October 23, 2020). "'Now and Then' at 25: Girlhood Finally Taken Seriously". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Now and Then at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "'Now & Then' TV show heading to ABC Family?". 2012-07-18. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  4. ^ Stuart Levine (2012-07-18). "King in early development on 'Now and Then' series: 'Pretty Little Liars' exec producer brings show to ABC Family". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  5. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes: Now and Then (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  6. ^ "Now and Then". Metacritic. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  7. ^ "Why Isn't 'Now and Then' a Classic Like 'Stand By Me'?". Decider. 2019-08-06. Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 20, 1995). "Now And Then". Chicago Sun-Times.
  9. ^ Leydon, Joe (17 October 1995). "Now and Then". Variety.

External links[edit]