“Let’s Fold Scarves”: Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion Turns 25

AMG | From left: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/IMDb

It seems like only yesterday that Romy and Michele were trekking to their high school reunion. But the 1997 buddy comedy, which stars Mira Sorvino (Impeachment: American Crime Story) and Lisa Kudrow (Friends, The Comeback) in the titular roles, has been around for a full two and a half decades. 

Forget a 10-year reunion — Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion has turned the big 2-5. Just as laugh-out-loud funny as it was when it premiered, the film is a true cult classic. To celebrate this 25th anniversary, we’re taking a drive down memory lane — so, hop in, “let’s fold scarves”, and, most importantly, have a Romy and Michele Day!

What Is Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion About?

From left: Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow filming Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/Everett Collection

If you’ve yet to experience the joys of watching Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, drop everything immediately and add it to your movie queue. The comedy revolves around two zany friends, Romy (Sorvino) and Michele (Kudrow), who find themselves right on the brink of their 10-year high school reunion. 

Unfortunately, neither feel like they have much to show for the last decade they’ve spent out of school. First, they attempt a last-ditch effort to make something of themselves, but ultimately learn that success can be tricky to come by overnight. Instead, they decide to concoct an elaborate lie by presenting themselves to their former classmates as the inventors of Post-its.

When Romy and Michele’s fictional lives prove harder to uphold than anticipated, the duo’s cover story spirals out of control — and, of course, hilarity ensues. 

The Romy and Michele Origin Story

Before Romy and Michele became the stars of their own movie, they started as background characters in a stage play called Ladies’ Room. The play — and, ultimately, the movie’s — writer, Robin Schiff, revealed that she based the characters on two women she overheard while they were chatting in the bathroom of a Los Angeles club. 

From left: Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow and Alan Cumming in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/Everett Collection

Schiff went on to develop them into full-fledged characters for Ladies’ Room, which was set entirely in the bathroom of a Mexican restaurant during happy hour. Lisa Kudrow, who Schiff knew from her days with the esteemed Groundlings improv group, played Michele in the original play — long before Friends made Kudrow a household name.

The Romy and Michele Characters Reach Star Status

While Romy and Michele were initially pretty small parts in Schiff’s play, the writer realized just how much potential the two characters held after seeing Kudrow’s performance. Sensing that Romy and Michelle were destined for even bigger things (and the screen), Schiff wrote a sitcom that revolved around the duo. 

From left: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/Everett Collection

Called Just Temporary, the show didn’t quite pan out — but hope wasn’t lost. The folks at Touchstone Pictures came across Ladies’ Room while looking for a “female version of Wayne’s World.” Although Schiff wasn’t initially sure that the premise of the play would translate to film, she decided that watching Romy and Michele attend their high school reunion might just be an idea worth developing for the silver screen. As we all know, the result did prove to be comedy gold. 

A Winning Cast Full of Friends

The success of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion hinges not just on the writing, but on the hysterical performances given by a truly all-star cast. Funnily enough, many of the actors in the movie also made appearances on Friends, which, of course, starred Kudrow as the delightfully eccentric Phoebe.

Romy and Michele alum Julia Campbell (Justified), who plays Christie, and Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap), who plays Lisa, both went on to co-star as Ross’ (David Schwimmer’s) love interests on Friends. E.J. Callahan (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), who plays Mr. Lish in Romy and Michele, appeared in several episodes of Friends as Al Zebooker/Mr. Simon, and Vincent Ventresca (The Invisible Man, TV series), who plays the film’s character Billy, was also Monica’s (Courtney Cox) Friends love interest, “Fun Bobby”. 

From left: The stars of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion — Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo and Mira Sorvino — pose for a photo, 1997. Photo Courtesy: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While Justin Theroux (The Leftovers), who plays the cowboy, may not lay claim to a Friends appearance, he did go on to marry one of the sitcom’s biggest stars, Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show) — so the connection still stands. 

But let’s not forget the brilliant work of Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer), who absolutely killed it as the chain-smoking Heather. Her connection goes back to the film’s director, David Mirkin. Mirkin had previously worked with Garofalo on The Larry Sanders Show, later saying that he knew Garofalo was a perfect fit for the role as soon as he saw the script. 

Romy and Michele Is Full of Fun Easter Eggs

But the fun connections don’t end with the people who were involved in the movie. If you look closely, you can also spot several seemingly random Quentin Tarantino references. While Romy and Michele is about as different as it gets from Tarantino’s trademark and highly stylized gore in movies like Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Django Unchained (2012), the Pulp Fiction director was also dating Sorvino at the time. 

From left: Alan Cumming, Lisa Kudrow (front) and Mira Sorvino in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/Everett Collection

In one scene, you can see a Big Kahuna take-out bag perched on Romy and Michele’s couch; in another, a Red Apple cigarette billboard lingers in the background. The reason for sneaking in branding from Tarantino’s fictional universe was two-fold: sure, it was a fun inside joke, but it also saved the production team money since they didn’t need to get the rights to real-life brands. 

Another fun Easter egg comes courtesy of director David Mirkin: in one scene, The Simpsons plays in the background — and, notably, Mirkin wrote for and produced the animated show for years. 

Real-Life Romy and Michele Filming Locations That Are Worth Visiting

Want to spend a night in Romy and Michele’s Venice Beach apartment? It’s actually possible. The building that was used for the exterior shot of the apartment building has since been turned into a hotel. Located right on Venice Beach, Venice Suites now offers bookings for around $350 per night. So, it might just be an experience for Romy and Michele diehards who want to splurge. 

Lisa Kudrow crouching down in a scene from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Photo Courtesy: Touchstone/Hulton Archive/Moviepix/Getty Images

Looking for a more affordable option? Well, you can find a fun Romy and Michele connection in New York City. Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!, Cabaret), who plays Sandy Frink in the movie, owns the city’s Club Cumming, which hosts a Romy and Michele-themed Afternoon Tea Dance almost every Saturday afternoon — complete with song requests you’ll be required to write out on Post-its. 

So, Uh, Who Actually Invented Post-its?

The funniest thing about Romy and Michele’s claim to have invented Post-its is that they were around long before the characters even graduated high school. The real credit goes to two 3M scientists, Spencer Silver and Art Fry (pictured). While Silver initially invented the sticky-but-not-too-sticky adhesive, he couldn’t figure out how to put it to good use.

3M’s Art Fry, inventor of Post-it notes, is shown holding up a couple notes and standing in front of a billboard along Interstate 94, 1989. Photo Courtesy: Rita Reed/Star Tribune/Getty Images

Later, Fry had an epiphany while looking for slightly adhesive bookmarks to annotate his hymnal booklet during choir practice. When the duo combined forces, the revolutionary Post-it was born. But the humor of Romy and Michele wasn’t lost on the company, which, even now, mentions the film in its official history of the Post-it note.