Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: ‘Now and Then' Anne T. Donahue

I could try to write some flowery intro about choosing another summer movie in the winter or the reason I still crank ‘Knock Three Times’ even if I’m someplace that requires absolute silence, or I could just tell you that Now and Then is one of the greatest films of our time and it’s embarrassing that I didn’t write about it sooner.

I mean, we’ve watched a few fantastic movies together already. But truthfully, we probably should’ve been watching Now and Then all night, every night for the last four weeks, and then talking about why most of us wore cut-off jean shorts and oversize plaid t-shirts in our youth because damn it, if our hair would just get a little bit straighter and darker maybe we’d probably look exactly like Christina Ricci.

We divvied up our pals and assigned them certain roles. We excluded that fifth group member because there was no place for them in our teen movie fantasy (and usually I was that fifth person – hey, guys). We laughed at the expense of certain characters (Chrissy – also, usually me) and said “canopy up, canopy down” whenever we had the chance. We may have even stole clothes from the dudes’ locker room in hopes of finally announcing “NICE UNDIES!” in front of the whole grade eight class*.

*I hope nobody actually did that. And if you did do that, you probably traumatized some poor, per-pubescent boy, so maybe contact him now to apologize if you haven’t done so already.

But the moral of the story is that Now and Then rules. And even though we know it’s unrealistic and untrue and blah, blah, blah FACTS, we know it by heart, we know the soundtrack by heart and we still don’t know why Teeny couldn’t have just made Samantha another bead necklace.

Let us begin.

1) Red Rover is nothing like this at all (and they probably would’ve lost the game)

Remember playing Red Rover in elementary school? First of all, hi, I was the kid they basically chose because they knew I would never, ever break through the fist-grips of the token athletes. Second of all, you know what happened next? My old team called me back. Basically, the weak kid run laps because each team knows a) you will and b) you are, as previously stated, weak. So congratulations, ladies, you got Bobby in the polyester suit. However, he is about to head right back to wherein he came because THEY ARE ALL ONTO YOU.

Also, you were totally cheating with the grabbing of arms, not hands, but I’ll let that slide because I am a saint.

2) The opening photo montage is everything right about montages

I would be lying if I said I didn’t look at my own photos and wonder what music would play when the inevitable film about my childhood is made. (Oh my GOD, I am kidding. Imagine? First of all, let me give you the run down: I drink a lot of Mr. Big milkshakes and consume breakfast foods with the tenacity of someone who drinks a lot of Mr. Big milkshakes and eats a lot of breakfast foods. Second of all, it would basically just be 90 minutes of me doing those things and wondering why nobody else would come listen to Celine Dion.)

But seriously. Let’s all just re-watch that opening part together because don’t you just wish you were every character (but especially Roberta who got to kiss Devon Sawa)? I know. Me too, guys.

3) “Hi, it’s Sam. I’m out. Deliberately avoiding your call! Leave it at the beep.”

This is why all of us couldn’t wait to have answering machines.

4) Sam’s smoking habit is actually incredibly concerning

The horrors of smoking aren’t exactly a secret, but do you know anyone who goes through an entire carton of Marlboro cigarettes? A WHOLE CARTON. In a car ride! Where is she coming from? The ocean? Did she drive under the ocean from England to Indiana and it took a few days, because otherwise WHAT. A carton. In a car ride. With the windows rolled up. I mean, I get it was the ’90s, but SHEESH, guy.

5) Breast is not a dirty word

Though put your hand up if you’d quote this scene with your friends and still feel like you were saying something totally inappropriate.

6) Teeny is kind of lame for going to her friend’s house in a limosine

I know none of us are celebrities, but do you know of any celebrities who visit their childhood neighbourhood and pull up IN A LIMOSINE? How do you say “I am flaunting my wealth and success in front of you” in every language in the history of the world? I mean, Teeny. You’re an actress. Maybe drive. Or take a cab. Or go with Sam! Or wait, don’t. You will absolutely reek of cigarette smoke and her car is a mess.

7) They do not say “like mother, like daughter”

Or maybe they do. Do they? I’ve never heard it.

8 ) Sam’s Dad seems like a terrible person

I am not about to judge anyone on their fathers or their experiences in fathering or maybe there’s a Dad reading this and I’m sure you’re great. But I’m just saying that remember when he just leaves IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? He just leaves! In the night! Under the cloak of darkness. And then he looks up, sees Sam watching him AND KEEPS GOING. Are you kidding me right now? What a tool! Can we assume she never saw him again? Better question: was her father Voldemort. (And actually, that’s more of a statement because I am not actually asking.)

9) RIP Ashleigh Aston Moore

What a sad thing. :(

10) Chrissy’s Mom isn’t really bad at all

I know we really seem to be embracing some parenting themes, but Bonnie Hunt is pretty solid. I mean, she cares. She cares about her daughter. And she’s really, really awkward about sex. And you know what? Telling your 10-year-old daughter about the “facts of life” seems kind of like a daunting task. Especially in 1970. In retrospect, she just cares. She is a mom that cares. And you know what? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

11) Roberta is SO BADASS

So, obvious alert times infinity, but how many of us would pursue a gang of Jello-tossing teenage boys ON FOOT, then throw ourselves at their bikes in hopes of acquiring retribution? None of us. None of us would. (Okay, fine. I wouldn’t, but what I wouldn’t do could fill a swimming pool.) That and:

- she sneaks out

- sounds cool when she casually swears

- has really wicked hair

- punches that really terrible kid (“GIRLS CAN’T PLAY BASEBALL”) in the face

And not to condone violence but, I mean, he was obviously a demon.

12) Chrissy isn’t fat

Seriously, she isn’t fat. She really isn’t. And who does Teeny think she is telling her that she is? Like, fine. She’s not a stick. But WHO IS? I mean, hi, doesn’t the camera add 25925825 pounds? How tiny are all these other girls in comparison? You know what? I LIKE CHRISSY. There. I said it. And you know what? We probably just didn’t ever want to be her when our friends divvied up the Now and Then characters because we all know that we’re kind of like her secretly (and not so much).

Also, her fake possession scene is Academy Award-winning. What a hero.

13) Shelby, Indiana is clearly in some sort of monsoon belt

I’m not a thunderstorm expert, but I will say that those freak rainstorms that city seems to have regularly are actually monsoons and something is horribly wrong. One lightning bolt and BOOM? I think not. Seems to me like we’ve got ourselves a movie set somewhere far, far away. Or maybe in Jumanji. Which would actually make a lot more sense if we argue that the little boy who sucks at Red Rover is Robin Williams as a child before he gets sucked into the game.

Didn’t I just blow your mind?

14) Their special messaging system is so fantastic and we all wished it was ours

We did. We all wanted it. We all wanted to have walkie-talkies and flashlights and secret meetings and to have a string that went from one house to another. If you did manage to do this, please tell me how. I know we all have cell phones and the internet now, but I am totally willing to adopt this method because it is cooler and looks better and is way more impressive than sending a “Hey, want to grab a tea?” text. I mean, get out of here, cellphones. AM I RIGHT? (No.)

15) Where are these kids’ parents?

It is incredibly commendable that these parents gave each of them independence and let them do their own thing, but seriously, they went from Shelby to Greenwood? If that’s the case, they seriously rode for hours and probably didn’t come back for moons. And their parents didn’t care, I guess? Like, they’re 13. 13! You know what you can do when you’re 13? Buy candy and go for walks, and hopefully not do too many crazy things because you only get to be a kid once. Maybe the mall. But these guys! It’s like they’re actually adults or something.

16) Roberta’s fake death thing is really upsetting

Like, buzzkill alert, but the girl is obviously in need of some assistance because she is not dealing with her Mum’s death entirely well. And who can blame her? It’s 1970. (Which, according to Dazed and Confused, is the decade that “Oh my God, obviously sucks”.) But she’s going around faking her death and traumatizing her friends and oh man, I just want to take a blanket and drape it around her and say “IT’S OKAY.” Also, “Stop diving in shallow water for real.”

17) They are so mean to Chrissy

Why are they so mean to her? She’s supposed to be one of their best friends! They call her fat, they tell her she sucks at running, they laugh at her when she gets crapped on by a bird, they make fun of her for not wanting to watch the naked guys and I’m sure there are about 19 other things that I can’t remember because the scene where Roberta finds the thing about her Mum in the paper and it’s kind of distracting and sad. But I mean, BACK OFF, SO-CALLED “FRIENDS”. I bet they were a dream in high school.

18) The Wormers!

I do not mean this in a creepy, weird “I want to date them now” way, but when I was 10, MAN OH MAN, let’s talk about babes. Also, Devon Sawa. Swoon-fest ’95, let me tell you. So misunderstood! So boyishly handsome. (Because he was a boy.) But then he grew up to be Stan, and I don’t think any of us are ready to come to terms with that.

19) What is up with all the Dear Johnny mystery?

I understand that it was a terrible situation, but let’s consider the fact that someone was obviously obsessed with the crime not being documented through newspapers and it MAY be the Grandma since she wouldn’t even talk about it when they asked her. Now maybe I am just assuming all over the place, but it was a robbery gone awry and two people die  and that was sad. But why the cover-up? WHY THE OBSESSION? I think this town may actually be The Village and the year may actually be now.

20) It is the veteran’s fault that Samantha smokes, I think

Like, shout-out to Brendan Frasier as the hippie bro, but are you really offering cigarettes to a gaggle of teenage girls? “Smooth,” says Samantha, igniting her addiction. Brendan, I love you, but you need to take it down three to four notches.

21) This movie’s soundtrack is better than everything

Here’s to playing it on repeat and your parents asking you to turn it down, but then taking that request back because they ALSO LOVED IT TOO. Also, here’s to doing the moves Teeny does to ‘Knock Three Times’ because she really got what the song was about. (RHYTHM. And knocking three times.)

22) “Mr. Kent, you have a piece of food stuck in your teeth.”

Samantha’s Mom pulls a pretty terrible move here and Samantha really busts out the big guns in emasculating the gentleman her mother is trying to seek validation from. The whole exchange is a thing of beauty. Also, Bud is a mega-creep implying he’s going to hook up with Sam’s Mom IN FRONT OF HER KIDS. Like, chill out, Hank Azaria. You’re a good dude, but you and your scarf need to re-lax because everyone feels really uncomfortable about this and oh my GOD, take off that bowling jersey – it belongs to her EX-HUSBAND.

23) Roberta and Scott obviously grew up to date

Remember at the beginning when Chrissy is like, “She lives in sin with her boyfriend, but she’s still normal”? I do. I remember it. I remember it well. And I am going to pretend that the gentleman she lives “in sin” with is Scott Wormer, who grew up to be anything but Stan from the Eminem video and probably ALSO a doctor because this is my made-up plot development and I’ve made peace with that.

24) Samantha’s choice to follow her beads down a sewer was ill-advised

I am just saying that if you live in monsoon-ridden Shelby, Indiana, you do NOT chase your tiny string of beads down a sewer because a) IT IS A SEWER AND THAT IS GROSS and b) No, seriously. Are you SERIOUS you just went into the sewer? This is how diseases spread, people. Also, this is how you drown in a sewer. There is no way she was going to get back out! It could’ve been a sunny day and she’d be trapped there with the mice and the yo-yos. Enjoy your beads, Samantha because they will be ALL YOU HAVE LEFT. (Also, where did that rush of water come from? Answer: Jumanji.)

25) POOR “CRAZY PETE”

So imagine you were married, and you were out late, and then you came home and found your partner and your kid dead, and then everyone in the town ostracized you and called you insane? Like, should they not have been like, “That poor gentleman. He must be so damaged.” So instead, he’s forced to live in the shadows, and pay respects to his deceased family at night and in rainstorms. Oh, and they still call him Crazy Pete despite him SAVING SAMANTHA’S LIFE. This town, guys. I don’t know*.

*I’m sure that Shelby is actually very lovely. I bet everyone who lives there is lovely, too.

But let’s not end on Crazy Pete. I mean, as much as I’d like to turn our laughter into sobs over the tragedy over Peter Sims, let’s conclude with two things we’re all thinking:

25) b) Roberta’s freakout is both expected but also terribly timed

Okay, so she’s running around and faking her own death and keeping photos of her Mum in her back pocket, so I think a meltdown was probably going to happen inevitably, let’s be real. But I mean, Samantha’s grandma’s attic, really? There? You broke a vintage record and an antique mirror, and now you might have to pay for those things or try and explain what the hell just went on. “Sorry, Grandma, about breaking into your home!” they would say from the backs of police vehicles. Because let’s be honest, Sam’s Gran doesn’t exactly seem compassionate.

Also, they totally did resurrect Dear Johnny, so you can just step off, inept cemetery worker.

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  1. Yep, my friends and I watched this at my 12th birthday sleepover. From then on we were Roberta, Sam, Chrissy and Teeny riding our bikes around the neighbourhood singing ‘Knock Three Times’. I still have the love beads that I bought to be just like Sam.

  2. My mum rented this movie out for me when I was like 12. She sung along to all the songs and at the time I looked at her like she was a total weirdo, but I do love the movie even if it was made when I was 8 years old and didn’t see it for another four years after that.

  3. forget Stan, try Owen in Nikita

  4. i’m officially obsessed with you. i fell asleep to the soundtrack every night for at least a year.

    Sarah Heyward | 1/14/2012 03:01 pm
  5. This is a great movie. I was sad to hear that the actress who played “Chrissy”, Ashleigh Aston Moore, passed away in 2007.

  6. Now I want to read an article about Devon Sawa.

  7. Thank you SO MUCH for pointing out the same things I’ve been ALWAYS THINKING about this movie! This is the first time I’ve come across someone ACTUALLY STICKING UP FOR KRISSY, and I LOVE you for it! I was deemed the “Krissy” and treated like that by other girls when I was that age, but inside, I always knew I was *really* Sam (minus the smoking!) I can’t hear “Knock 3 Times” w/o bouncing my shoulders.

  8. I watched this last night just like I said I would, and loved it!!

  9. I used to make my friends watch this movie with me at every sleepover, and one of them still makes fun of me for yelling at them for talking during it because, “THIS IS THE BEST PART!” I also had the baseball scene memorized line by line.

  10. I am surprised this hasn’t been part of the series so far! Well, I’m glad that’s been fixed. I’ve been jamming to this soundtrack all week actually–having just found it while cleaning–and have been hankering to sit down and watch it.

    Heck yes, Roberta and Scott! I’m surprised that Roberta duct taping her boobs down wasn’t mentioned.

  11. An all-time favorite! I teach, and some of the 5th graders at school interviewed me for their newsletter this week. One of their questions was what is your favorite movie? I usually have a hard time picking favorites, but Now and Then was an easy pick!

  12. This movie makes me feel everything.

  13. This movie was a staple for my sister and friends. And I was totally jealous of Christina Ricci for many years because she kissed Devon Sawa in two movies. I haven’t watched this movie in years, and I think I should again.

  14. this is truely the best movie ever. i know all the words.

  15. This article has just confirmed that hellogiggles & its writers have insights to my soul that I thought no one but a close few had access to. Now & Then was my absolute FAVORITE adolescent-coming-of-age-completely unrealistic-but-you-can’t-help-but-love-it-movie! I was a total Roberta, complete with my very own Wormers; known as the Solomon’s. The only thing separating she & I is that I was never in love with a Solomon brother. There were terrors. But, back to the movie. It always makes me miss the days of riding our bikes for hours on end, finding entertainment anywhere we could (including once breaking a boys glasses during a game of “touch” football, causing him to cry…hey, he started it). Though I grew up in a different decade, I am grateful to have had similar childhood experiences and a great movie to forever remind me of such a great time in my life. Thanks Now & Then, for being with me both now…and then.

  16. omgggg this movie! i used to rent this movie like every weekend when i was in elementary school.

  17. My friends and i played this all the time in fifth grade, but there were only three of us so we didn’t have a Chrissy. We smoked candy cigarettes, and listened to the soundtrack on repeat.

  18. This is my favourite movie!!! although i’m still ashamed sometimes to admit it now that I’m studying screenwriting. All the Padrino and Reservoir Dog fans in my class… would probably kill me if I tried to explain why this movie is WONDERFUL. Much better than the movies they adore. They probably did not had a childhood, or a girlie childhood… who knows?

  19. “But then he grew up to be Stan, and I don’t think any of us are ready to come to terms with that.”

    Dying from laughter in my office. Glad I’m no the only one to be traumatized by that either.

  20. This is so good I didn’t want it to end.
    “The only doll Roberta’s got it s GI Joe.”

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