Genre: Comedy, Drama
by: Diane English
Starring: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen
Released by: Picturehouse Entertainment
Short: Pretty women, pretty clothes, pretty run-of-the-mill.
Haven't I Seen This Movie Before?
Updated Chick-Flick Fare That's Still Lacking
This most recent release of The Women, a remake of director George Cukor's 1939 movie that was based on a play written by Clare Boothe Luce, even kids itself with the line, "What do you think this is, a 1930s movie?" Even without knowledge of the original film, after seeing this version, you're still going to feel like you've "been there, done that." And just like that last phrase, the movie is clichéd, from the characters' dialogue to their actions.
Meg Ryan plays Mary Haines, a wealthy, doing-it-all mother of a neglected coming-of-age teen daughter who designs clothes for her father's company. She learns through the new, "must-go-to" but gossipy manicurist, played by Debi Mazar, that her husband is having an affair with the "spritzer girl," Eva Mendes. What follows is just what you'd expect of typical chick-flick fare, but just substitute your usual gallon of ice cream for a stick of butter and some Hershey's Cocoa Powder, as demonstrated in the film.
The women all look great, but the same cannot be said for all of the acting (and quite possibly, Meg Ryan's lips). The weakest link is Jada Pinkett Smith, who plays a rather one-dimensional, shrewish and bitchy lesbian who recites hackneyed "pulled finger" and "TV remote" lines about "typical men." There is nothing particularly likable or interesting about her character. And while it is nice to see Candace Bergen in a feature film, she plays a character we have seen and heard before: the all-knowing matriarch. Debra Messing is the perpetually pregnant Earth mother, with four daughters amusingly named January, April, May and June; Annette Bening plays the anti-Mary Haines, as a terminally single, career-driven magazine editor who will and does step on anyone to get ahead. Bette Midler's (albeit short) performance is scene-stealing as a pot smoking, Hollywood agent seeking R&R at a women's health camp, while Ana Gasteyer of SNL fame is hysterical in a cameo. The always-terrific Cloris Leachman rounds out the cast as Maggie, Mary's housekeeper—and memory.
This is a "pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-with-a-little-help-from-your-loving-there-for-you-but-still-self-involved-friends" kind of movie. It's definitely flawed, and you will find yourself groaning at the banality, but in some ways, it still works.
By far, the most interesting thing about the film was the subtle, but total lack of men. There were none anywhere in the movie, save for the end, which will not be given away here, just in case you still want to see the film!
Reviewed by Jayne Gordon