Most Memorable Reunion Movies, From 'Romy and Michele's' to 'Grosse Pointe Blank'

These films celebrate the power of friendship (and the power of a great soundtrack).
by Allison Bowsher — 

From left to right: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in 'Romy and Michele's High School Reunion'

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

It's been 25 years since Romy and Michele's High School Reunion burst onto the big screen with its technicolor outfits. The feel-good comedy features the brilliant pairing of Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, who play high school besties that decide to reinvent themselves as successful businesswomen for their school's 10-year reunion. The women hit a few bumps along the way to their reunion, including a failed attempt to present themselves as the inventors of the Post-it, but it's nothing a fur-trimmed cocktail dress and choreographed dance to "Time After Time" can't fix. Plus a lot of love, understanding, and seeing that many of the popular kids who used to bully them are now deeply unhappy adults equals vindication!  

Movies about classmate reunions typically fall into two categories: the school sanctioned reunion, like the one in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion or a gathering because of the death of a loved one. Both story engines make the list of the most memorable classmate reunion movies, which act as a lesson that 10 years after graduation (from either high school or college) is not nearly enough time to figure out how to do the whole adulting thing.  

The enduring strength of friendship is celebrated in these comedies, which focus on first loves, missed opportunities, unrealized potential, and a reminder that there is life after embarrassing and difficult high school years. Packed with great ensemble casts and a lot of excellent soundtracks (three words — The Big Chill), classmate reunion movies offer a feel-good trip down memory lane without actually having to go to your own reunion.  

Here, are the top 10 most memorable reunion movies, ranked by Metascore.


John Cusack in 'Grosse Pointe Blank'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Grosse Pointe Blank 

Metascore: 76 
Best for: Fans of dark comedies with a healthy shot of action
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesVudu 
Running time: 107 minutes  

Before Barry could run, Martin Blank walked. The hilarious 1997 black comedy focuses on professional assassin Martin (John Cusack), who returns to his hometown for his 10-year high school reunion in hopes of reuniting with his ex-girlfriend Debi (Minnie Driver). Martin's love for Debi is rekindled after seeing her, inspiring him to leave the killing business behind. Unfortunately for Martin, he's got multiple targets on his back, including a fellow assassin (Dan Aykroyd) who wants him to join the union. If anyone needs health coverage, it's assassins. The film boasts a great script and excellent performances from its cast, pairs siblings John and Joan Cusack on screen, which is always fun, and has a killer (pun!) soundtrack composed by The Clash's Joe Strummer.  

"A bright burst of action and comedy with a cast that makes for rousing good company." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 


'Garden State'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Garden State  

Metascore: 67 
Best for: Fans of indie rock soundtracks and darkly comedic coming-of-age tales
Where to watch:

, Google PlayiTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 102 minutes 

Zach Braff is a triple threat in his writing and directorial debut, which also stars the Scrubs lead as Andrew, a struggling actor who leaves L.A. and his medicine cabinet overflowing with anti-depressants to travel back to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother's funeral. In his newly unmedicated state, Andrew reunites with his former friend Mark (Peter Sarsgaard), who is now working as a grave digger. The trio attend a party where Andrew meets Sam (Natalie Portman), an eccentric young woman who inspires Andrew to make drastic changes in his life, including being more present. The emotionally fulfilling film not only boasts a great cast and marks one of Jim Parsons' first acting credits, but it also has one of the best film soundtracks around.  

"Garden State gets it. Not since The Graduate has a movie nailed the beautiful terror of standing on the brink of adulthood with such satisfying precision." — Peter Debruge, Premiere 


'Beautiful Girls'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Beautiful Girls

Metascore: 64 
Best for: Fans of rom-coms featuring messy relationships 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 112 minutes 

Beautiful Girls succinctly depicts the messiness of trying to figure out what to do with one's life and who, if anyone, to be with. Timothy Hutton stars as Willie, a musician who leaves New York City to travel to his small hometown for his 10-year high school reunion. Unsure of his future in music and with his girlfriend, Willie finds his friends are also at a crossroads: Tommy (Matt Dillon) is having an affair and Paul (Michael Rapaport) is handling his recent breakup poorly. Things get more complicated when beautiful (girl) Andera, played by Uma Thurman, shows up in town. The film also features Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Plimpton, Sorvino, and a very young Portman

"Tender, touching, and downright delightful." — Rita Kempley, The Washington Post 


'10 Years'

Courtesy of YouTube

10 Years (2011)

Metascore: 61 
Best for: Fans of high school reunion films and ensemble casts
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 100 minutes 

Even if you're not a fan of reunion films, 10 Years is worth a watch simply to see so many big-name actors on screen just as they were breaking into Hollywood. There are multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe stars alone (Chris Pratt, Anthony MackieOscar Isaac)! Writer and director Jamie Linden's script manages to pack several storylines into a film that takes places over one night (the titular 10-year reunion). All the tropes are represented and updated for the early 2000s, and although 10 Years doesn't tie up every loss end, it does give most characters a happy ending that leaves viewers feeling excited for the future. 

"There's a relaxed, unforced, melancholy sweetness and swing to this modest iteration of the Big Chill/Return of the Secaucus 7 formula, a pleasing directorial debut for screenwriter Jamie Linden." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly


'The Big Chill'

Courtesy of Apple TV

The Big Chill  

Metascore: 61 
Best for: Fans of films that are high on nostalgia, ensemble casts, and great soundtracks
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes,
Runtime: 105 minutes 

It's tough to tell what became more popular from The Big Chill — the actual film, its cast of relative unknowns (at the time), or its soundtrack. The period drama was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and members of the cast continue to be some of the most highly-regarded and sought-after actors working today (Glenn Close, for example, has earned two Oscar noms in the past four years). The film centers on a group of college friends who reunite 15 years after graduation when a member of their group dies by suicide. (Kevin Costner was cast as the character, but his face is never shown in the movie.) The group spend a weekend together, during which old flames and old rivalries are reunited and secrets are revealed, exploring the idealism of the 1960s, but not resolving relationships in a tidy way.

"The Big Chill represents the best of mainstream American film making. It's a reminder that the same people who turn out our megabuck fantasies are often capable of working even more effectively on the small, intimate scale." — Vincent Canby, The New York Times


Alan Cumming, Mira Sorvino, and Lisa Kudrow in 'Romy and Michele's High School Reunion'

Courtesy of YouTube

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion 

Metascore: 59 
Best for: Fans of the Valley-girl trope and on-screen besties
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunesTubi
Runtime: 92 minutes  

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion shows what happens when you don't do enough research for your lie. While attending their 10-year high school reunion, eponymous besties Romy (Sorvino) and Michele (Kudrow) swap their colorful frocks for black business suits to help sell their story that they've become successful businesswomen after investing Post-its. Unfortunately, their cover story is blown by a classmate (Janeane Garofalo), but this does give the women the opportunity to show who they really are — fun-loving, youthful women who love to coordinate a look and a dance routine to Cyndi Lauper. Popular jock Billy (Vincent Ventresca), who was cruel to Romy, is now unhappy and unsuccessful, while nice and nerdy Sandy (Alan Cumming), who had a crush on Michele, is now a sophisticated billionaire and helps the women fund their fashion line. In conclusion, don't be mean to the nerdy kids. 

"Kudrow's Michele is a deadpan delight as she joins fellow misfit Romy (a deliciously funny Mira Sorvino)." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 


From top: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in 'Central Intelligence'

Courtesy of YouTube

Central Intelligence 

Metascore: 52 
Best for: Fans of action and comedy crossovers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 107 minutes 

Central Intelligence teams up Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, with Hart starring as Calvin Joyner, who used to be the most popular kid in high school, and Johnson as Bob Stone, a former overweight teen who dropped out of school when he was publicly humiliated in front of his classmates but is now a CIA agent. Calvin was the only one who treated Bob with respect back then, and 20 years later, they catch up over drinks the night before their reunion so Bob can thank him for his kindness. But the pair end up tangled together in Bob's latest mission for the CIA, which includes taking down a terrorist threat and therefore a lot of hilarious action scenes.  

"It's an action-comedy utensil, like Rush Hour crossed with an old Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot-'em-up, with a few goofy added sprinkles of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety 


'Now and Then'

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Now and Then 

Metascore: 50 
Best for: Fans of feel-good coming-of-age films with a fun throwback to the 1970s
Where to watch:

, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 100 minutes 

The complexities and enduring bonds of friendship are highlighted in this mid-1990s dramedy. The all-star casts features Demi Moore, O'Donnell, Rita Wilson, and Melanie Griffith as four childhood friends who reunite as adults and remember a pivotal summer in 1970. On the cusp of teenagehood, the younger versions of the women are portrayed by Gaby Hoffmann, Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, and Ashleigh Aston Moore. The young girls find support in their friendship as they navigate first loves, struggle with their changing bodies, and experience parents' divorce. The strength of their friendship still abounds when the foursome reunites as adults, with one member of the group on the cusp of motherhood.  

"Now and Then will be deeply felt by women, and there's no earthly reason why men shouldn't enjoy it, too." — Bob Thomas, The Associated Press 


'American Reunion'

Courtesy of YouTube

American Reunion 

Metascore: 49 
Best for: Fans of the American Pie series and raunchy comedies in general 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, , Vudu 
Runtime: 113 minutes 

The fourth installment in the American Pie series reunites most of the original cast, whose characters return to their small town in Michigan for a high school reunion. Frustrations abound as all the main players eventually reveal their own struggles. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have lost the spark in their marriage, while Oz (Chris Klein) has found success as a sports broadcaster but is unhappy in his relationship, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott) are both struggling with their careers. After several disastrous interactions, though, the raunchy comedy still pulls at the heartstrings just enough to stay true to what made the original American Pie film so popular. Plus, Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge return as Jim's dad and Stifler's mom, so there are some adults providing supervision (and laughs).  

"The result is the best slice of Pie yet: a savvy sequel that's flat out hilarious raunchy fun." — Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine 


From left to right: Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Adam Sandler in 'Grown Ups'

Courtesy of YouTube

Grown Ups 

Metascore: 30 
Best for: Fans of comedy greats hanging out together on screen  
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix,  
Runtime: 102 minutes 

Writer and star Adam Sandler put his black book to good use with Grown Ups, which features him and his real-life Saturday Night Live pals playing on-screen buddies. Sandler leads the ensemble cast as Lenny, who is joined by his wife (Salma Hayek) and kids while attending the funeral of his high school basketball coach. The funeral reunites Lenny with his four best friends: Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade), and Rob (Rob Schneider). Along with their respective families, the five men extend their reunion past the funeral service to spend a long weekend at a lake house. It's not the best work we've seen from the impressive line-up, which also includes Maya Rudolph, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Meadows, and critics certainly didn't enjoy it, but it's an easy watch if you're looking to keep a reunion-themed movie binge going a little longer.

"The film has some chuckles, if no belly laughs; it has some warmth, if no great heat." — Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle