By Jeff Gordinier
Updated March 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

If an ’80s revival really lurks right around the corner, the soundtracks to Grosse Pointe Blank and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion are poised to pounce on it. Both movies revolve around high school reunions, and both soundtracks set out to do what The Big Chill — yet another reunion flick — did for baby boomers back in 1983: that is, whet the national thirst for shameless nostalgia.

Of course, one man’s memory lane is another’s highway to hell, which means that Romy and Grosse Pointe dish out dramatically different versions of the Greed Decade. Stuffed with synthetic sugar-plums by the Go-Go’s, Bow Wow Wow, and Bananarama — the groups that made the world safe for the Spice Girls — Romy is a pure pop album that wallows in the kitschy, lip-glossy side of the ’80s. Grosse Pointe, on the other hand, caters to an aging ’80s underclass — namely, the kids who survived the Reagan years on a steady diet of punk and ska. You simply can’t argue with classics by the Clash, the Jam, and the English Beat, but there are bum notes, too. (Why, for instance, does Grosse Pointe make room for Guns N’ Roses’ remake of ”Live & Let Die” — a hit in 1992 — but omit Nena’s new-wavey ”99 Luftballons,” a high point in the film?)

In the end, yes, the Clash still crush Wang Chung under the heel of a dirty boot. No surprise there. What is surprising is that Romy‘s bonbons and Grosse Pointe‘s time bombs really don’t sound so far apart, either. In the shadow of a ’90s shock-rock squad like Marilyn Manson, both the Violent Femmes and the Go-Go’s come off as wholesome as Martha & the Vandellas. B+

Grosse Pointe Blank

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  • George Armitage