Calendar Girls

"Excellent"

Calendar Girls Review


Nigel Cole's empowering Calendar Girls calls to mind Peter Cattaneo's The Full Monty, though not just because it's about nude British people who have no business being in their birthday suits. Both imports work from simple one-line premises centered around the fundraising efforts of a cheeky lead (here it's Helen Mirren, while there it was Robert Carlyle). And each employs a sassy spirit of friendship over hardship that guarantees your heart will dance with empowered delight as the clothes continue to hit the floor.

As a rite of passage, American children join the scouts. Older British women, as a similar rite of passage, join the National Federation of Women's Institutes, shortened to the W.I. by its faithful members. The group holds true the notions of enlightenment, fun, and friendship, though lately they've been in a rut. Guest speakers to the group have brought the latest news on cauliflower. Not quite headline-worthy material.

If Annie (Julie Walters) seems distracted, it's because she has plenty of other things on her mind. Her husband, John (John Alderton) has fallen ill, struck down by the Big "C." Chemotherapy doesn't work, and John eventually succumbs to his illness. Annie couldn't assist her husband in life, so she swears to do something for his name in death. She aims to raise enough money to purchase a comfortable couch for the family waiting room at the local hospital, and Annie's best friend, Chris (Helen Mirren), knows just how they're going to do it.

Chris suggests that the annual W.I. calendar - usually a collection of churches, steeples, and antiquated architecture - be a collection of different antiques this year. She pitches the idea of a tastefully nude pictorial featuring the ladies of the W.I. The idea stays true to a poem John wrote on the women of Yorkshire. Like the flowers of Yorkshire, which he worked with religiously, he says, "the last phase is the most glorious."

John was on to something, and Calendar's gaggle of senior spice girls proves it. The movie features solid comedic turns across the board, increasing in strength and courage as the fruit of their labor - the nude calendar - becomes a global success. The women form a senior sorority bouncing through a Spring Break fairy tale in the winters of their lives. Girls fills that sassy feminine void of comedy left by Bea Arthur, Betty White, and the rest of television's Golden Girls. They're amused by each other, and keep us entertained in the process.

Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth's uncomplicated screenplay works in an expected obstacle or two. Husbands and sons disapprove of the calendar. As we're reminded by Annie's character, this isn't France it's the Queen's England, and this sort of thing is frowned on. And the group's success - an the ensuing celebrity - eventually goes to Chris' head.

Mirren, an accomplished dramatic actress, showcases a casual yet precise comedic timing that adds bounce to the material. She's luminous, headstrong and highly motivational, the perfect persona to jump start the hesitant woman of the W.I. and the right actress to dryly deliver the line, "Can anyone see my nipples?" Walters lends a soft, supportive voice. Philip Glenister gets good laughs as Lawrence, the ladies' jittery, embarrassed, and altogether British photographer.

The Brits would describe Girls' humor as "chirpy." We call it sarcasm. Directed by Nigel Cole with a light touch, the picture's flawlessly tempered by Mirren and Walters' uncanny ability to step back and smirk at it all.

Deleted scenes and two short documentaries (including interviews with the real calendar girls) round out the DVD extras.

Make love to the camera, ladies.



Calendar Girls

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st January 2004

Box Office USA: $30.9M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Harbour Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 90 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chris Harper, as Annie Clarke, as John Clarke, as Cora, as Jessie, as Lawrence Sertain, as Rod Harper, as Celia, as Marie, as Ruth

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.