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

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.