Five Ways Something Ruined My LifeFive Ways ‘Now and Then' Ruined My LifeErin Mallory Long

I’m not going to pretend that I still watch Now and Then all the time, but when I did watch it, I watched it a LOT. This was one of those movies my friends and I would always put on whenever we had slumber parties and knew like the back of our hands. It’s such a good romanticized version of being 12 that it’s hard to watch now because I’m constantly thinking, “Being that age was awful! Why are you lying to me?!”

But it stuck with me – even though I didn’t live in a new housing development in Indiana and even though I didn’t grow up in the 70’s. They have adventures, they (mostly) seem a little smarter or well-spoken than their years, and they’re a four-girl friend group (I always had three-girl groups – a weird number). Also, I still think about Gaby Hoffmann whenever I see a storm drain overflowing during a rainstorm.

So here we go. . . Now and Then: 

1. Made Me Obsessed with Ouija Boards / Séances

So, we already know I had a taste for the paranormal from my love of The X-Files but Now and Then taught me about that stuff that I’d only get a taste for even more once I saw The Craft.

Like any kid, I loved board games, so once this movie came out and they had séances and were investigating murders, my friends and I became SO interested in playing with Ouija boards. Suddenly, no sleepover was complete without sitting around in the dark playing Ouija board and yelling at your friend for moving the piece when obviously we were supposed to let the spirits move it! (DUH!)

I mean, I don’t know what we gained from asking the Ouija board about our lives but I do know we were really interested in having séances, we just didn’t know where to start. We knew it involved candles and scary situations, but that was about it. So we mostly stuck to the Ouija board and took turns being the jerk who scares everyone by writing out “death” on the Ouija board or something.

2. Made Me Extra OBSESSED With Boobs

When you’re growing up as a girl, you spend a lot of time obsessing about your breasts and when they’re going to arrive and how great it’ll be when they do. (Especially since I read a lot of Judy Blume “I must increase my bust!” )

As a girl who didn’t get boobs until college and got teased throughout middle school and most of high school for being flat-chested, I can say that Now and Then did not help me in the boob department.

You're killing me, Roberta!

One of the first scenes of the movie shows Christina Ricci taping down her boobs because they won’t stop growing. This was MADNESS to me. I mean, I understand she was a tomboy and so apparently she didn’t want them and everything, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

But then at the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Teeny stuffing her bra with pudding-filled balloons and having the girls do sex quizzes out of Cosmo.

Also, I desperately wanted her outfit and bedroom in this scene

I mean, I guess everyone needs that friend when you’re 12, because otherwise, how would you get to answer fun questions like “Which of these do you consider foreplay?” when you’re at a diner being served by Janeane Garofalo?

[Side note: Why didn’t Janeane Garofalo play older Christina Ricci instead of Rosie O’Donnell? I’ve always found the Christina Ricci to Rosie O’Donnell transition very weird.]

3. Made Me Nostalgic For Music That Came Out A Decade Before I Was Born

I’m pretty sure I can blame all movies and programming on Nick at Nite from the ’90s for my skewed understanding of time periods. For example, I didn’t realize The Monkees wasn’t a current TV show when I was watching it growing up. I found it amusing, the music was great and it was playing on my TV, so how could it not be new?! (Same goes for Taxi and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

Similarly, Now and Then had an amazing soundtrack (including ‘Daydream Believer’, duh) but the songs weren’t exactly new. Did that matter to my friends and me? Absolutely not. We still sang them at the top of our lungs and sang it to each other while riding our bikes. We knew the entire soundtrack inside and out and I remember my mom commenting on when the songs were from and just being completely confused.

This is probably why everyone my age is obsessed with styles from time periods not our own. So many things we grew up with were from times before us!

4. Convinced Me That My 12-year-old BFFs Were Actually My Friends For Life

As I said, I was part of a three-girl friend group from about 4th to 8th grade. We went everywhere together, we only sometimes added other people to hang outs and we definitely had a lot of sleepovers.

I’m not positive we didn’t MAKE any pacts when we were growing up, but I know we didn’t STICK to any pacts that we may have made.

I love Now and Then because they have a perfectly balanced group of friends with each person playing a necessary role. And I always love in these movies how each person is so different but they’re still all friends. Why do I love that, though? Well, frankly, because it doesn’t happen in real life. Let me re-phrase. It happens in real life but you probably aren’t still going to be close like that when you’re 30. Or even 18. It’s just not real. (Gosh, I’m not meaning to sound so cynical – I’m just realistic!)

Here, let me explain using part of Demi Moore’s voice over:

“When you’re 12, without effort, you live in the moment. You don’t regret the past or worry about the future.”

That’s what’s great about being a kid. You love your best friends so much and can’t imagine a time without them. You don’t have the foresight to think you might NOT be in each other’s weddings or see each other’s kids being born. It’s not an option that you won’t and as a result, you make insane pacts to always stay friends. And that’s amazing.

5. Could Not Watch A Group of Girls Onscreen Without Figuring Out Which One Was Me

You know how when you’re a kid and there’s a movie with a group of friends and you figure out which of your friends is each character in the movie?

So, okay, this is who I was:

Jawbreaker: Fern (Judy Greer)

The Craft: Bonnie (Neve Campbell)

The First Wives Club: Annie (Diane Keaton)

Now and Then: Samantha (Gaby Hoffmann)

I’m pretty happy with all the roles I got cast in over the years by my friends and I stick by them (though being Fern in Jawbreaker is a serious bummer) but I was happiest with being Samantha in Now and Then. She’s feisty and a brunette and is the leader of the séances and she does that sweet judgmental move with her Coke bottle when Chrissy is describing sex with gardening terms as her mom taught her.

ENvqoR on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Clearly, like any respectable girl of the ’90s, I was obsessed with Christina Ricci but in this movie, it was Gaby Hoffmann all the way for me.

All for one and one for all!

(Main pic from here with me added)

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  1. As from the first 2 … yep that’s me. I still get clued to the couch if I catch this on the tube…

  2. I am pretty sure this movie is why i became obsessed with libraries….and thus, became a librarian :) however, RARELY is there a room like that in the basement!! SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT!!

  3. you forgot about Devon!!! blame you now and then!

  4. Oh my God, I recognize myself in EVERY single point you’ve made ! This movie was a huge part of my life back then. I watched it a few weeks ago and it was like a time machine ! This movie will always be one of my favorite and I hope I’ll have a daughter one day so I can watch it with her :)

  5. I do honestly think we could be besties, love this! I always wanted to be Roberta but feared for my furture of turning into Rosie o’donnel?! Also I bloody love the music especially ‘Band of Gold’ and ‘Knock 3 Times’ !
    When Devon Sawa popped up in the Eminem ‘Stan’ video, my entire childhood was shattered
    xx

  6. You read my thoughts and then wrote this article. I LOVED IT!

  7. the Now and Then Ouija Board is so engrained in my memory that when they used a Ouija board in Downton Abbey my first thought was NOW AND THEN

  8. I was also obsessed with this movie as a pre-teen! This is why I made all the neighborhood kids play Red Rover!!

  9. The Craft really made me and my friends obsessed with seances and witchcraft!!! Also, I love that song in this movie that went “As I lay me down to sleep, yes I pray, that you will hold me dear.” That was my jam.

  10. I love love loved this article. I was absolutely obsessed with Now and Then and probably still know all the words, I can’t wait to dig out the vhs and watch it. The soundtrack was my LIFE.

  11. I am SO glad someone else finds the Christina Ricci to Rosie O’Donnell transition weird too! It always bothered me. I love both ladies, but I always thought older Roberta should have been played by someone else…

  12. I LOVE that you put yourself in that picture!! That’s A-mazing!! :) This article is so spot on with your feelings of childhood friends. When you’re a kid it’s un-imaginable that you will ever be older than 13 let alone 23 without your BFF. I’m going to be honest though I STILL watch movies,tv,whatever and decide which character I am :)

  13. This article (and movie) is my life. My group of friends and I watched this movie all the time when we were younger. I knew every word to all the songs on the soundtrack and can quote the movie. Though my friends and I haven’t stayed in touch much, we would definitely come back together if one of us needed it.
    This is my list.
    Jawbreaker: Fern (Judy Greer)
    The Craft: Sarah (Robin Tunney)
    The First Wives Club: Brenda (Bette Midler)
    Now and Then: Roberta (Christina Ricci)

  14. Great article! There was a time in my life where I would pop in my Now and Then VHS everyday after school. Thanks to that movie my best friend and I discovered just how delicious a Black Cow really was! I yearned to be a Samantha, but sadly was more of a Chrissy. My mother even had a very similar sex-talk with me! LOL! And that coke bottle look was one of the highlights of Gaby Hoffman’s career! Not gonna lie… rewound it a couple of times just for that moment! :)

  15. 1. How hot was War Vet Brendan Fraser?
    2. My childhood never had that awesome an adventure. Biking to another town to hit up the library, kissing a boy on a porch bench, graveyards, and tree houses. NO FAIR!
    3. I totally agree with you on the Janeane Garofalo!
    4. Remember when everyone was in love with Devon Sawa? What was wrong with us?
    5. Knock three times on the ceiling if you wa-ant me! Twice on the pipe *fist pump, fist pump, if the answer is noooo!

    • I KNOW! I was looking at Devon Sawa and I was like, “wait, I used to LOVE him. He is not cute.” Like, I can look at young JTT and see where the love came from. But Devon? Not anymore…

  16. Love that movie! My friend and I literally tried to connect our houses (which were across the street from each other no less) by a string so that we could could attach bells to the ends to send messages. Needless to say, some adults intervened when they saw us stringing rope across the street haha. It also gave the impression that sneaking out of your house in the middle of the night via climbing out a window was super easy and realistic!

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