Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE WOMEN (2008)

THE WOMEN (2008). Director/writer [from play by Clare Boothe Luce]: Diane English.

"You want to see a bad face lift? -- she looks like she's re-entering Earth's atmosphere!"

This remake of The Women (1939) is moderately amusing, updating the original story line with modern-day gags and references. Jada Pickett-Smith covers two minority groups by playing a black lesbian, but it seems quite -- indeed, very -- regressive to make her a bit of a man-hater. [What was English thinking? It's a perfect example of a filmmaker trying to be liberal and include gay characters while not understanding them at all!] Meg Ryan is okay as Mary, the gal whose husband has taken up with the man-eating Crystal [the sexy but still kind of gross Eva Mendes]. Candace Bergen makes comparatively little impression as Mary's mother, a role perfectly nailed -- and owned -- by Lucile Watson. Cloris Leachman as Maggie, Carrie Fisher as Bailey, and Annette Bening as Sylvia come off best. Debra Messing of Will and Grace still seems like a sitcom lightweight, and Debbie Mazar, though very credible as the manicurist who opens her big dead-common mouth, is as irritating as ever. Don't blink or you'll miss Bette Midler, but maybe you might want to. The biggest problem is that the 1939 version featured some of Hollywood's best actresses and legends [Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell etc.] and that's hardly the case with this version. Mazar? Fisher? Bergan? Even Bening, while good, is hardly in the same category.

Verdict: Not completely terrible, but watch the original instead. **1/2.

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