Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Modern Girls (1986)

Seen: On my tv, streamed from netflix instant.

Last week a lot of titles were expiring on netflix instant so naturally I set to finally watching some of the things in my queue. I chose movies that weren't available on dvd since who knows how else I might see these movies. First priority was of course Modern Girls, whose Lichtenstein-esque poster and high praise from Andreas enticed me greatly. The movie revolves around three working women (Cynthia Gibb, Virginia Madsen, and Daphne Zuniga) who are roommates and good friends. They're dissatisfied with their day jobs but live it up most nights at the hottest clubs and bars in New York. The events of one particularly busy evening unfold as the girls track down a visiting rock star, rescue each other from bad decisions, sneak into clubs, and generally cause a scene, all with well-meaning dweeb Clifford (Clayton Rohner)- and his car- in tow.

This movie kind of has it all: Awesome ladies being awesome, kickin' tunes, LOUD fashions, drunken revelry, mistaken identities, a car chase, AND a food fight. Dang. The three leads are likable and funny, with cutesy waif Cece (Cynthia Gibb) taking most of the funniest bits because her character is the most exaggerated. Virginia Madsen is supposed to be the hot one, but she's a bit lost most of the time, and it's Daphne Zuniga who really sexes things up. She's got that great dry delivery and aloof coolness, paired with opera gloves and killer heels. Of course Clayton Rohner is adorably goofy in his dual role of lovesick nerd Clifford and lovesick rock star Bruno X. The choice to have him play both roles is a little weird, since there's really no reason for it except for one or two jokes around confused idenities, but whatever, he looks like he's having fun either way.

At first I thought this was going to be too shallow and frivolous for me to all-out love it, since it starts off as this night of young women who only care about dancing and boys and free drinks. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just sort of empty. BUT it turns out that there's more to these ladies than meets the eye (like how Daphne Zuniga went to COLLEGE and studied ENGLISH and so she likes to READ!) and the script toys with stereotypical portrayals of women in general. There are certain scenarios that start off cliche but are then turned on their heads, such as a near sexual assault on a drugged-up Virginia Madsen that is diffused in a cool and funny way without lessening the seriousness of her situation. And that same character's seeming victimization in a later scene becomes an opportunity for the girls to bond together and stick up for themselves. These are some pretty great ladies, even if they are a bit silly, and a lot of the movie is just learning about their neat attributes from the point of view of Cliff, who definitely judges them harshly at first and learns he's totally wrong.

It's fun, it's funny, it's fabulous- Modern Girls is a truly satisfying female-centric comedy, refreshing in its focus on friendships and lifestyle as opposed to romance (though there is of course some cute lovey-dovey stuff) and entertaining without being vapid. Best of all, it's got all those great 80's trappings I love, from outrageous fashions to a synth-heavy soundtrack. It's not especially groundbreaking, but darnit it's a good time!


Pair This Movie With: More Eighties Ladies! (Damn if that isn't the name of a screening series I'd host.) Just One of the Guys, Valley Girl, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, oh my god I haven't reviewed any of these movies somehow I'm sorry but just trust me.


  1. It's a very underrated film. It's definitely one of the better films of that decade as well as the fact that it has a great soundtrack that includes the Jesus & Mary Chain and Depeche Mode.

  2. YESSSSSSSSS!!!! I watched this two weeks ago and fell in love with it. Satisfying on every level