Let me just start by saying I'm probably not the best person in the world to be reviewing a film about the coming of age of four twelve-year old girls in suburban America. I'm going to give it my best shot--just bear in mind who you're dealing with here.
The cutesy premise of Now And Then is this: Now...Roberta (Rosie O'Donnell), Teeny (Melanie Griffith), Samantha (Demi Moore), and Chrissy (Rita Wilson) are gathering together to help Chrissy through her pregnancy. Then...the characters are the same, only 25 years younger, played by Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffman, and Ashleigh Aston Moore. The film plays out over the summer of 1970 (there's a whole lot more Then than Now), where the girls' perform a seance that leads them to investigate the mysterious death of a 12 year old boy, long since buried in the local cemetery.
The girls also struggle with their blossoming sexuality, the evil boys down the street, practical jokes on each other, female bonding, and parental-driven teen angst. It's kind of like The Big Chill meets The Goonies meets Little Women. If this sounds corny to you already, believe me, it's twice as corny on the screen. Slathered in slapstick humor and lots of female anatomy jokes, Now And Then quickly degenerates into an occasionally funny comedy with the heart of a sappy melodrama about "growing up."
There are plenty of pop culture references to 1970, most notably a hip retro soundtrack, but unfortunately, not much was going on in America in 1970. After all, that's why they sent Forrest Gump to Vietnam. So, to supplement the lack of character in the setting, director Leslie Linka Glatter has given the film two things instead: a lot of celebrity cameos, and a lot of scenes of girls almost drowning. No, it doesn't make sense, but at least it's distracting.
I like to think I generally understand shows like My So-Called Life, but Now And Then escapes me. After all, anything featuring Demi Moore as a novelist comes off as believable as, well, Demi Moore as a novelist.