I was nine when Now and Then was released, and because it was PG-13, my parents were disinclined to let me see it in theaters. But I battled fiercely for my cause. The previews alone engendered in me a sense of urgency—a conviction that I would be ill-prepared for puberty if I did not see the film immediately upon release. Ultimately, I prevailed, and struggled to catch a glimpse of Devon Sawa’s pubescent dick like the rest of my demographic.
Now and Then celebrates its 20th anniversary today, and, judging from chattering around the internet, it has remained a poignant cultural touchstone for swaths of women who came of age in the nineties.
Of course, the film resonates most fundamentally with a certain kind of girl. Whitewashed as Now and Then is, it by no means represents Hollywood at its most diverse, racially or socioeconomically. It seems pretty fitting now that the garage door painted to the beat of “Sugar, Sugar” is swathed with white paint.
But celebration and critique need not be mutually exclusive, so we might as well pay tribute to Samantha (Gaby Hoffman/Demi Moore), Roberta (Christina Ricci/Rosie O’Donnell), Teeny (Thora Birch/Melanie Griffith), and—the Hufflepuff/Miranda of the quartet—Chrissy (Ashleigh Aston Moore/Rita Wilson). We can contemplate the splendor and ache of a summer swollen with bewildered excitement, fierce platonic love, and disenchantment.
And, naturally, we can shed a tear for the halcyon days when Devon Sawa did not resemble one of Walter White’s customers but was a fresh-faced lad with eyes sparkling with virginity. His appeal, by the way, was not lost on the four young principals. Producers Suzanne and Jennifer Todd tell E! Online that the younger cast “had a bet going about who would ‘get with’ Devon Sawa while filming.” Apparently Ricci was the victor, making her the recipient of some bitterness: “[Ricci] got out front, and the other girls weren’t happy about it,” the producers divulge.
I mean, duh. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I’m not happy about it (on the behalf of my nine-year-old self, of course). Granted, Ricci did have the advantage, as the narrative incorporates some naive sexual chemistry between Roberta and Sawa’s character, Scott Wormer. How many hormones accelerated to blazing speeds when their bodily hosts encountered this chaste, nervous, but perfect kiss?
“You wanna do it now?” Roberta asks. Girl, this is your moment to soar. Yes, you fucking want to do it now.
So here’s to a #squad of girls who would roll their eyes, take a long swig of Coca-Cola, and tell Taylor Swift to stop being a cheesy-ass whiner. I hope that at least some of you will celebrate this day by holding a graveyard seance, or, if you seek a more innocuous observance, by stuffing your bra with pudding. And if you’re the luckiest among us, climb inside your treehouse, pull out the wine, and pour one out for Now and Then, puberty, and Devon Sawa’s thingy.
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Top Image via New Line Cinema. Videos via YouTube.