Beautiful Girls (1996)

Film and Plot Synopsis

“Beautiful Girls” is a 1996 comedy-drama film directed by Ted Demme and written by Scott Rosenberg. Set in a small town in Massachusetts during a snowy winter, the film explores themes of love, friendship, and the challenges of adulthood through the lives of a group of friends facing various crossroads in their lives.

‘Beautiful Girls’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Beautiful Girls (1996)The story revolves around Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton), a 29-year-old piano player living in New York City who returns to his hometown of Knight’s Ridge, Massachusetts for his 10-year high school reunion. Willie is grappling with feelings of dissatisfaction and uncertainty about his future, as he struggles with commitment issues and a fear of settling down with a highly successful and supportive girlfriend, Tracy Stover (Annabeth Gish).

Upon his return, Willie reunites with his childhood friends, including Tommy “Birdman” Rowland (Matt Dillon), Paul Kirkwood (Michael Rapaport), Kev (by Max Perlich), and Michael “Mo” Morris (Noah Emmerich). Each friend is dealing with their own set of challenges and insecurities, whether it’s relationship woes, career struggles, or existential angst.
Mo is a successful family man who seems adjusted to life in a highly domestic relationship with his wife Sarah (Anne Bobby) but still idolizes the single life that all his friends still have. Tommy is a successful but emotionally immature womanizer whose is in a tumultuous relationship with his longtime girlfriend, Sharon Cassidy (Mira Sorvino). Despite his relationship, Tommy continues to have an ongoing affair with the married Darian Smalls (Lauren Holly), Tommy’s high school girlfriend.

Paul has recently been dumped by his longtime girlfriend Jan (Martha Plimpton). Paul is still obsessed with the relationship while simultaneously being obsessed with the notion of other beautiful girls. He spends his nights using his snowplow to block Jan’s driveway while obsessing about Jan’s new relationship with Victor the meat cutter (Adam LeFevre). He finds solace and companionship with his friends but is unsure how to move forward with his life. Kev seems to float through life unattached and never really establishing strong connections with anyone but his friends from high school.

Once in town, Willie stays with his widower father Dick (Richard Bright) and younger brother Bobby (David Arquette). He meets the 13-year-old neighbor girl Marty (Natalie Portman) and the two start up an unlikely friendship. Willie confides in her his uncertainty about marrying Tracy. Marty develops a crush on Willie. Willie also confides in Mo that he is considering taking a steady job as a salesman, but his friend urges him not to quit his music.

At the same time, Paul desperately proposes to Jan in the hopes that it will restore their relationship. Unsurprisingly, she rejects his proposal. Sharon argues with Tommy about his well-known infidelity. Sharon’s friend, Gina (Rosie O’Donnell), urges Sharon to break up with Tommy, but Sharon tries to salvage the relationship by throwing a surprise birthday party for him.

One night at Stanley “Stinky” Womack’s (Pruitt Taylor Vince) bar, the boys meet Andera (Uma Thurman), Stinky’s attractive cousin from Chicago. All the guys compete for her attention, but she rejects all their advances. Later, Willie sees Marty with a boy her age and finds himself jealous. Willie discusses his feelings about Marty with Mo who reminds him how young she is and says that Willie just does not want to grow up and sees Marty as a way to delay that maturity.

At Tommy’s surprise party, Darian shows up drunk and openly tries to seduce him in front of Sharon and all her friends. Sharon leaves the party heartbroken with Gina. Tommy drives Darian home but refuses her sexual advances which angers Darian. Tommy then proceeds to try to patch things up with Sharon. The next day, Willie encounters Marty ice-skating. Marty informs Willie that she has broken up with boyfriend because she is interested in him. She asks Willie to wait five years until she is 18 and they can be together. Although pleased at the notion, Willie rejects Marty’s offer and tells her that she will outgrow her feelings for him as she matures, comparing their relationship to Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh.

Do you see her face? Girls like that are born with a boyfriend. Stanley “Stinky” Womack (Pruitt Taylor Vince)

That night, Paul takes Andera out on a date to make Jan jealous. Andera plays along and the ploy is successful. However, when Paul tries to kiss Andera, she gets angry and slaps him. Later, Will chastises Paul about his constant obsession with supermodels to which Paul responds by stating that beautiful girls represent hope and promise. At the same time, Tommy breaks off his relationship with Darian, but she states her intent to win him back at the reunion.

That night, Andera spends the night talking with Willie in Paul’s ice fishing cabin. Willie makes several half-hearted passes at Andera, who politely rejects him. The two discuss their relationships, with Willie stating that he misses the emotional rush of a new romantic relationship. Andera counters by stating that she feels truly happy with the security of her relationship and returns to Chicago the next day to see her boyfriend. Tracy arrives from New York the next day. Willie’s family warmly accepts her as part of the family, and Willie finds that his feelings are rekindled. Marty is devasted by Willie’s returned interest in Tracy, but Willie assures her that she will grow up to do amazing things.
At the reunion, Darian attends alone to look for Tommy. She is confronted by a former classmate, Peter “The Eater” (Tom Gibis), who she bullied in high school. Peter tells her that she was beautiful but “mean as a snake.” Tommy avoids the reunion and the confrontation with Darian and goes to a bar. There, he encounters Darian’s husband Steve (Sam Robards) and a couple of his friends. Steve confronts Tommy about the affair, and when Tommy goes to leave, Steve and his friends beat him up. Tommy ends up in the hospital.

Willie, Paul, Mo, and Kev all show up and learn what happened. The foursome drives over to Steve’s house to confront him. Mo prepares to assault Steve when Steve’s friends show up in their car. Willie uses Paul’s snowplow to ram their car into a snowbank which prevents them from getting out. Mo is about to hit Steve when he sees Steve’s little daughter in the doorway. Steve tells Mo that he is just trying to save his family. Mo leaves with his friends just as Darian returns to see the carnage that her actions have led to.

Tommy ends up with a concussion and two broken ribs, but Sharon returns to take care of him, and the couple make up. Overcome with emotion from the evening and learning a little more about what it means to be in a relationship, Paul uses his snowplow to clear Jan’s driveway of snow rather than blocking it. The next day, Willie says goodbye to everyone before going back to New York with Tracy. Willie decides not to take the sales job and to continue with his music. Paul informs Willie that Jan and Victor are engaged but he is okay with it. Before leaving, Willie introduces Tracy to Marty, and Willie kisses Marty on the cheek before driving away.

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Our Rating

Miramax Films released Beautiful Girls on February 9, 1996. Ted Demme directed the film starring Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, and Noah Emmerich.

User Rating: 4.6 ( 3 votes)
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