Longtime Murphy Brown scribe Diane English dips her toes into bigger waters as she attempts to remake The Women, George Cukor's 1939 comedy classic that saw housewives Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell face off against shopgirl/mistress Joan Crawford. In English's estrogen-enhanced retooling, it is now Meg Ryan and Annette Bening, career girls flanked by lesbian Jada Pinkett-Smith and mommy Debra Messing, up against husband-baiting "spritz girl" Eva Mendes. Unfair and useless comparisons between the legendary Cukor and newbie English aside, this movie had me for a solid ten minutes before I was considering throwing myself head-first into a tank of Venezuelan red-bellied piranhas.

Like Cukor's film, English's effort boasts an all-female cast that ranges from raging, single Manhattanites to pot-smoking, transplanted Angelenos to Connecticut-rich ladies who lunch. The latter would be Mary Haines (Ryan), a fashion designer who gets the axe from her father after expecting him to hand over the keys to the castle. Before Mary even finds out, her best friend Sylvia (Bening) receives drive-by gossip about Mary's husband's affair with a counter girl at Saks named (appropriately) Crystal (Mendes). Mary's mother (Candice Bergen) expected it, and her lesbian friend Alex (Pinkett-Smith) wants to convert her. Needless to say, she finds her way through the fog of familial uprooting and finds herself a better mother, friend, and daughter for it.

Continue reading: The Women (2008) Review