Thursday, September 18, 2008

Supporting, "The Women"

Diane English's remake of the 1930's classic, "The Women," boasts a cast of all women. I, for one, did not miss the men.

I am so sick of Hollywood pandering to the adolescent mind set. Even romantic comedies have been dumbed down to attract young males. There is a nasty new trend to center romantic comedies on a man-child with all the inherit gross out, potty humor. The directors do try to insert some "heart" into these gag fests. But where is the romance and the smart, witty repartee? I heard it took ten years to get this film made. This doesn't surprise me. Even after the success of the "chick flicks," Sex and the City," and, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," Hollywood doesn't get it. I see a lot of films. There are women out there who are hungry, HUNGRY for intelligent, moving, character driven films. "The Women," delivers a stick of butter dipped in dark chocolate.

Diane's writing reminds us that comedy can come out of the story and character development - not just sheer shock value. She reminds us that witty dialogue can be damn funny. It seems that Hollywood has forgotten that both men and women (and even some teenage boys!) love the classic comedies of the 40's that feature strong women characters with great dialogue.

To tell the truth, the 1930's version of, "The Women," left me cold with those snooty, upper class voices, catty behavior, and outdated morals. But Diane puts a modern spin on the classic. So while the main characters are definitely privileged, they are still accessible. Much of the credit goes to Meg Ryan's down-to-earth performance as high society good girl, Mary Hanes, and Debra Messing (in her funniest film role) as her artistic, earth-mother friend. Some of the characters do come across as overly catty - especially Mary's best friend fashion magazine editor Sylvie Fowler (played by a strident and crude Annette Benning.) But I figure with friends like Mary she can't be all bad.

Diane does a great job updating the material and dealing with the outdated morals. When Mary finds that her husband is cheating, her mother (Candence Bergen) advises her to stay in the marriage. Diane pokes fun at the archaic values comparing them with those of a 1930's movie. Wink wink.

I'll admit, early in the film, I was turned off by some pretty catty women. But as the film progresses, it shows the strength women get from their loyal friends. Stay with it, and you will be rewarded by smart, witty dialogue, and some big belly laughs.

Movie blessings!
Jana Segals

Check out my later reflections on, "The Women," in the review, "Bridesmaids" A Female Driven Comedy for Men.


Reel Inspiration said...

Think I'm being too catty here?

nick plowman said...

I can't wait to see this, to be honest. Or at least I am curious to see it.

Cori said...

Intelligent, thoughtful and practical. This review really helped me to make a wise use of my time. I like movies that make me think and are not stuck in the typical Hollywood paradigm. Thank you!

Angeline said...

Your line, "the strength women get from their loyal friends" brought tears to my eyes because as you know I was getting a marriage offer recently. Its been an interesting process following by some traditional guidelines, but being so independent as I am and sticking to my guns on my high standards to except a good proposal; I feel sometimes in the end it will be a "Golden Girls" situation for me in the years to come. The other day one of my close friends said to me "In the end it comes down to your good and close girlfriends that a girl can count on for respect and reliablity." So your words instantly brought tears to my eyes, because it rings so true.

I haven't seen the original or this version yet, but after reading this and considering Autumn Hose and I wrote that one comedy play "Scarf & the City," I need to see this. And I need to see it with my 17 year old daughter it sounds like. We loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling pants, so I think we may ring with this one.

By the way Ladies; you all need to see this Documentary by Rosanna Arquette "Searching for Debra Winger."

Jana, fabiosis on the review! ;-)


Jana Segal said...

When I encouraged women to support women's films by seeing, "The Women," the was a backlash from some women. Many women didn't like it because of the "catty" unlikable characters. I further address this issue in my review, "Bridesmaids" A Female Driven Comedy for Men. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!