THAT WAS THEN . . . This is Now" is the tried and tried-again story of "growing up" and having at least a couple of nasty life experiences along the way. Emilio Estevez, leader of the Brat Pack, adapted the screenplay from the S. E. Hinton novel of the same name, her fourth to be made into a motion picture.
Estevez plays Mark Jennings, a troubled teen who lives with his friend/almost-a-brother Bryon Douglas (Craig Sheffer) in a working- class area of Minneapolis. Bryon's overly understanding mother (Barbara Babcock) lives with them, too, a moot point considering the closest she ever comes to parental discipline is dumping an entire box of sugar over Mark's cereal. Of course, maybe that's why Estevez runs around like a hyperactive two-year-old from beginning to end.
Ineffective in their tough-but-tender roles, Estevez and Sheffer are less streetwise than just plain juvenile, nor are they convincing as best buddies. They spend their "innocent" days hustling pool, stealing cars and working over kids with spiked hair. Mark can't get enough of it, Bryon could take it or leave it, and that's the extent of their relationship. So when they begin growing apart, it's hardly heart-wrenching.
Bryon eventually gets a girlfriend (Kim Delaney) and a job, and starts pondering the universe to an MTV beat. Mark successfully ruins a few lives, and hairdos, while yearning for the good old days.
When the long arm of juvenile justice finally catches up with Mark, it's actually a relief -- the end of a friendship and film that are both going nowhere.