Meet-cute established, we flash forward four years to Jennifer and Ryan’s next meeting, when their respective high schools play a football game against each other. Jennifer (Forlani) has been elected homecoming queen, and Ryan (Prinz), traveling with the visiting team in the gopher mascot costume, sees her making her grand entrance on the field during halftime. After the game, they chat a bit, long enough to establish that Jennifer is still hopelessly libertine while Ryan is still hopelessly uptight.
Another two years later, Jennifer runs into Ryan on the UC Berkeley campus as he is kissing his girlfriend Betty (Hannigan) goodbye. While catching up in line at the registrar’s office, Ryan explains to Jennifer (and the audience) that Betty, his high school sweetheart, is tethered to USC by a scholarship, just as he is tethered to Berkeley by a scholarship. Jennifer informs Ryan that she is no longer noncomittal and is in love, love, love with her awesome musician boyfriend.
Cue awesome musician boyfriend promptly dumping Jennifer. Around this time, Betty also dumps Ryan because “we’ll never do laundry together.” Jennifer moves in with and takes comfort from her best friend Amy, while Ryan hangs out with and takes comfort from his supreme douchebag roommate, Steve (Biggs) (who also goes by Hunter, to impress the ladies; exactly how is unclear). All this is mostly assumed because the film immediately jumps forward another year, to when Amy is asking Jennifer to break up with Ryan for her because apparently that's been happening, too.
Jennifer does so, not realizing that Amy’s Ryan is also her Ryan until he’s on the porch ringing their doorbell. When Ryan tries to fake tears by rubbing mentholated balm in his eye (a tip from Steve), Jennifer takes him to the student health center and a friendship begins to develop in earnest. They do lots of fun touristy things in San Francisco, hang out on a cliff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and dance at a nightclub foam party to the frenetic beat of a remix of “Car Wash," where they joke they should make a regular laundry night of it.
Jennifer and Ryan become very close, and she uses him as her ‘brother’ to help spring her from a bad blind date. By now Ryan is smitten with Jennifer, but when she hooks up with a rando dude at a party, he cuts his losses and starts dating another girl instead.
When rando dude burns Jennifer, she takes solace once again in Ryan. They have a heart-to-heart at the laundromat (seriously, what is behind this movie's obsession with laundry?), where Jennifer stands up and rails, loudly, against the concept of love and dating before storming out in a fog of emotion. An extra steals the scene with her reaction shot.
The next day, Jennifer is on the shuttle to the airport when she sees their vista spot out the window and her thoughts once again turn to Ryan. She flees the airport shuttle and returns to Ryan’s dorm, only to find him gone. She returns to her apartment to find Amy and Steve hooking up, and Steve informs her that Ryan is flying down to Los Angeles that day. Jennifer goes to the airport and buys a ticket on Ryan’s flight. Ryan, again wondering what the delay is, pages the flight attendant, who once again asks, “can I help you?” Ryan begins to respond “I don’t know, can you...” before wisely thinking better of it and concluding with “...get me a soda, please?” Progress! He's matured, slightly!
Jennifer gets on the plane, declares her love for Ryan, they smooch, and they all live happily ever after.
My fascination with this film’s time period is due in part to my realization of how quickly the past 16 years have elapsed; but I must also cop to this hitting a bit too close to home. It was with a combination of mild horror and amusement that I realized that I was, like Ryan, a junior in college in 2000. Knowing how well my own 20 year-old self was equipped to be a good partner in a solid long-term relationship, I have little doubt that Boys and Girls 2 would pick up a year later, with an embittered Jennifer working as a sandwich artist and ruing the decision to choose that stupid Ryan over the opportunity to travel through Italy.
As someone who is in both Berkeley and San Francisco on any given day, I can definitely say that although it’s a short commute, there is a distinct gravitational pull to the Cal campus that few young undergrads manage to escape. Not only is Cal a sprawling, well-appointed campus situated inside a small city with plenty of culture, dining, and shopping within walking distance; but school spirit amongst both students and alumni often teeters on the precipice of “cult-like fervor.” Certainly there are always exceptions to the rule, many of whom I personally know, but these factors often combine to keep Cal students in a tight orbit around campus.
However, Ryan, Jennifer, and company are constantly flitting between San Francisco, Berkeley, and even the Marin headlands as quickly and easily as if they were teleporting. Amy and Jennifer live on Cole Street, just off the famous sprawl of upper Haight Street, which (significant economic improbability aside) is 15 miles from the Cal campus and over two miles from the nearest BART station. Someone watching this film, however, could easily be forgiven for assuming that the Cal campus is a few blocks away from the Haight-Ashbury. The scene made most bizarre by this fact is when Jennifer escorts Ryan, who has rubbed mentholated ointment into his eye, from her front stoop to the student health center. That would have been a hellish one hour-plus journey on both Muni and BART, with a stinging eye the whole time. Have they never heard of the famous Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic?
This film saves the biggest slap in the face to credulity for the very end. After the airport shuttle picks Jennifer up at her house in San Francisco, it is shown crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, headed southbound. This provides the opportunity in the plot for Jennifer to gaze longingly at the overlook point where she and Ryan often talked, but for me it only provided the opportunity to scream GIRL WAT. Unless she's getting this ride for free, and has an extra two hours to kill before she actually has to be at the airport, she is getting ripped off by a driver who picks her up, goes up to Marin, and then goes back down past her house to SFO.
As with any post featuring private residences, please be respectful of occupants and do not disturb them with your sightseeing!
First opening on Haight in 1980, the Red Vic took up residence at Haight and Shrader eleven years later in 1991. Offering independent, foreign, second-run, experimental, and cult films, it's impossible to overestimate what a cultural beacon the Red Vic was for the city. And for me, personally- although I can't remember the exact number of times I took my seat on one of the Red Vic's pews and/or couches with a wooden bowl of popcorn, there are two times that I will never forget. The first was forcing my high school friends to celebrate my birthday by attending a 20th anniversary screening of Pink Flamingos (I'm sure some of them still haven't forgiven me). And of course, the second was meeting Tommy Wiseau and Gregg Sestero in person at a screening of The Room. For a weird teen girl growing up before the existence YouTube or Netflix, the Red Vic was an unimaginably rich portal into a universe of art, expression, and fellow weirdos. After the theater closed, the neighboring whiskey bar expanded into their former snack bar and lobby space, and the theater space was converted into a food hall featuring different vendors. So it could be worse, but still- I miss my old friend!
Ryan and Jennifer are shown poised at the top of Kearny Street where it dead-ends at Vallejo Street, wearing Rollerblades and safety gear and psyching themselves up to roll down the hill before chickening out. It's a considerable grade, one of the steepest in the city, and propelling oneself down it is a delicate operation, considering it has to be timed with the streetlight that controls cross-traffic on the busy four-lane road of Broadway. That's not to say it hasn't been done- I can recall many times watching people hurtle downhill with the suicidal enthusiasm that only twenty-something skateboarders can muster.
Authenticity: 4/10- Seemingly familiar, and yet turned on its head- like a dog standing on top of a cat standing on top of a rat.
If you told me that I had to watch this movie again: I would react in an era-appropriate manner.
Overall: 4/10- I found it mildly enjoyable if only because it captures the briefest moment in time where we'd survived the hype of Y2K and hadn't yet had our optimism, spirits, or common sense crushed by 9/11.