neighborhood bar

Beautiful Girls (film)

Beautiful Girls (1996) is a film directed by Ted Demme and starring Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, Annabeth Gish, Timothy Hutton, Lauren Holly, Natalie Portman, Martha Plimpton, Michael Rapaport and Rosie O'Donnell.


A piano player (played by Timothy Hutton), at a crossroads in his life, returns to his hometown for a high school reunion, where he finds that his classmates are not very successful in life either, especially not in love. His heart, however, is captured by a young girl who is only thirteen but an "old soul" (played by Natalie Portman).


The men

  • Willie Conway (played by Timothy Hutton) — The only one of the group to move away. Willie relocated to New York City, working as a semi-successful pianist. Generally the good guy in the group, his home life isn't as strong as he may prefer. His mother is deceased and his father is emotionally withdrawn. He also has a wild younger brother, Bobby (David Arquette), who is very grounded despite his age.
  • Tommy 'Birdman' Rowland (played by Matt Dillon) — Head snow plower. Known as the tough one of his group. Tommy seems to have not let go of his youth, and is still having an affair with Darian Smalls, an old high school flame. This puts a considerable strain on his relationship with his current girlfriend.
  • Michael 'Mo' Morris (played by Noah Emmerich) — A factory manager by profession. Unlike his friends, humble Mo has happily settled down with a family, but still does have a temper when provoked. Admires Willie greatly for how far he's traveled in his life.
  • Kev (played by Max Perlich) — Snow plower and Tommy's co-worker. The wisecracking Kev has to reluctantly look the other way when Darian enters the picture, well aware of Tommy's relationship with Sharon which he doesn't approve of.
  • Paul Kirkwood (played by Michael Rapaport) — Snow plower who is obsessed with centerfold models. Paul can't let go of his old relationship with a waitress (Martha Plimpton). A crass guy who can't resist tormenting his ex-girlfriend by plowing snow into her garage door.
  • Stanley 'Stinky' Womack (played by Pruitt Taylor Vince) — The hardworking and humble proprietor/bartender of a local bar that he recently purchased and renovated. A generally good guy who knows the limits of right and wrong.

The women

  • Tracy Stover (played by Annabeth Gish) — Willie's long term girlfriend, a beautiful attorney who might be Willie's future spouse.
  • Darian Smalls (played by Lauren Holly) — Tommy's old love interest from high school, unhappily married with one daughter. Darian can't resist Tommy, which upsets both parties.
  • Gina Barrisano (played by Rosie O'Donnell) — Friend and hair stylist of the women. A fast talker who spouts pearls of wisdom in a heavy New Yorker's accent.
  • Jan (played by Martha Plimpton) — Paul's on again-off again girlfriend, now dating a meatcutter which aggravates Paul to no end.
  • Marty (played by Natalie Portman) — Conway family's neighbor and Willie's lolita, who is more forward in her approach to Willie. Describes her young self as "an old soul".
  • Sharon Cassidy (played by Mira Sorvino) — Tommy's current girlfriend, who tries her best to make Tommy happy.
  • Andera (played by Uma Thurman) — Stinky's cousin from Chicago. Very attractive and fairly wise, aids Paul in making his ex jealous.

Minor characters


Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg was living in Boston, waiting to see if Disney would use his script for Con Air. He said in an interview, "It was the worst winter ever in this small hometown. Snow plows were coming by, and I was just tired of writing these movies with people getting shot and killed. So I said, 'There is more action going on in my hometown with my friends dealing with the fact that they can't deal with turning 30 or with commitment' - all that became Beautiful Girls". Originally, James L. Brooks was interested in directing the film according to actress Leslie Mann who auditioned for a role but was not cast.

Ted Demme had the entire cast come to Minneapolis and live together for two to three weeks so that they could bond. He also made sure that the setting is a character unto itself. He "wanted to make it look like it's Anytown USA, primarily East Coast. And I also wanted it to feel like a real working class town". To this end, Demme drew inspiration from Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978). "The first third of the film is really an amazing buddy movie with those five actors. You could tell they were best friends, but they all had stuff amongst them that was personal to each one of them". He screened the movie for the cast and crew.

Scott Rosenberg also writes for the show October Road. The show is loosely based on what happened after Beautiful Girls came out and how his friends reacted to a movie about their lives. Both Beautiful Girls and October Road take place in the fictional Massachusetts town of Knights Ridge, and have similar characters, jobs, plot lines.


Track listing

  1. Roland Gift - "That's How Strong My Love Is" 6:18
  2. Afghan Whigs - "Be for Real" 4:16
  3. Howlin' Maggie - "Easy to Be Stupid" 4:51
  4. Billy Paul - "Me and Mrs. Jones" 4:48
  5. Satchel - "Suffering" 4:49
  6. Chris Isaak - "Graduation Day" 3:10
  7. Pete Droge & the Sinners - "Beautiful Girl" 4:34
  8. Ween - "I'll Miss You" 2:56
  9. Afghan Whigs - "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" 5:21
  10. The Spinners - "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" 4:31
  11. Kiss - "Beth" 2:46
  12. King Floyd - "Groove Me" 3:01
  13. Diamonds - "The Stroll" 2:31
  14. Neil Diamond - "Sweet Caroline" 3:24


Beautiful Girls was released on February 9, 1996 in 752 theaters, grossing USD $2.7 million on its opening weekend. It went to make $10.5 million in North America.

The film received fairly positive reviews and currently has a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote, "What's nicest about the film is the way it treasures the good feelings people can have for one another". In the Washington Post, Desson Howe praised Natalie Portman's performance: "As a self-described 'old soul' who connects spiritually with Hutton (they're both existential searchers), she's the movie's most poignant and witty presence". However, Jack Mathews, in the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the film was "about as much fun as a neighborhood bar on a Tuesday night. Its crisis: not much happening".


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