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129 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Not naked....nude!"
Calendar Girls is a sweet and uplifting British comedy based on a true story. Set in the picturesque village of Napely, we meet 50-something best friends Chris (Helen Miren) and Annie (Julie Walters). They belong to the local Women's Institute, which is staid and traditional, and to them, boring and silly. (Their annual fund-raising event is selling a calendar with...
Published on January 1, 2004 by Kona

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Story. Bland Movie.
"Calendar Girls" is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the publication, in 1999, of a nude calendar featuring the ladies of the Rylstone Women's Institute of North Yorkshire, England. The calendar caused a media sensation in Great Britain and the United States on account of its photographs of women of a certain age performing quaint everyday tasks...
Published on May 18, 2004 by mirasreviews


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129 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Not naked....nude!", January 1, 2004
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Calendar Girls is a sweet and uplifting British comedy based on a true story. Set in the picturesque village of Napely, we meet 50-something best friends Chris (Helen Miren) and Annie (Julie Walters). They belong to the local Women's Institute, which is staid and traditional, and to them, boring and silly. (Their annual fund-raising event is selling a calendar with photos of jams and flowers.) When Annie's beloved husband dies from cancer, some of the club members decide to raise money for a new sofa in the hospital waiting room by selling a calendar featuring themselves in the (gasp!) nude.

Helen Miren is great as the feisty and opinionated Chris, whose involvement alienates her family. Julie Walters is very likeable and sympathetic as the new widow. Ciaran Hinds, who has starred in many period films, has a small but good role as Chris' husband.

Most of the movie is beautifully photographed in rural England and it is simply idyllic. This is in sharp contrast to the unsavory scenes filmed in Hollywood (when the ladies appear on The Tonight Show.) The story is heartwarming, but avoids being syrupy. The nude scenes are tastefully done, and played for laughs, as one would expect. The real calendar, by the way, has so far raised $1.6M for a new cancer hospital wing (and the new sofa). I heartily recommend this refreshing and well-made comedy.
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, January 3, 2004
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The film is based on the true story of the women of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, England. Tired of having the same boring speakers (who delve into the fascinating world of rag rugs, or the different species of broccoli), member Annie (Julie Walters, "Billy Elliot") asks her husband John, an avid horticulturist, to speak at the institute. John, however, is battling luekemia, and before he can do his speech, he passes away. Annie and longtime pal Chris (Helen Mirren of "Gosford Park") decided to raise money to replace the hideously uncomfortable sofa in the relatives room of the hospital wing John was treated at. But another WI calendar featuring jams, flowers, or the countryside? That barely raised 75 pounds the previous year!
Something in John's WI speech motivates Chris; "The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire", he wrote. "In each phase of their lives, they become more radiant". This impowers Chris and Annie to recruit 10 more WI members to strip down to the buff and pose for a professional photographer. The pictures turn out great, but the girls face trouble when their local WI branch president wants to put a stop to what she feels is a scandalous idea. Chris and Annie have to fight the head WI counsel, and each other, as their popularity grows. They go from Yorkshire, to the Jay Leno show in L.A. (where they lounge by their hotel pool with Anthrax!), and back again. But the huge success of the calendar begins to distract Chris from her family responsibilities, and threatens to put up a hedge between her and Annie. Helen Mirren gives a wonderful performance, and is well deserving of the Golden Globe she has been nominated for. A film not to be missed. For those who whine about having to see women over 50 in the nude, you've missed the point. Personally, I think these women look pretty darn great for their age!
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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obscuring the naughty bits, January 4, 2004
In 1999, eleven members of the District Women's Institute in Rylstone, North Yorkshire, England posed starkers on a year 2000 calendar printed up to collect funds to benefit leukemia research after the death of John Baker, Assistant National Park Officer for the Yorkshire Dales and husband of WI member Angela, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1998. What made the venture unusual was that the models were all just local ladies in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. In the UK, 88,000 copies were eventually sold, and 250,000 in the States. CALENDAR GIRLS, based on this story, has been characterized by a principal as about 75% accurate in the re-telling, with the remainder being scriptwriter's embellishment for comedic or dramatic effect. The original idea for the calendar was suggested by Angela's friend, Tricia Stewart.
In the film adaptation, Helen Mirren plays Chris Harper (based on real-life Tricia Stewart) and Julie Walters and John Alderton play Annie and John Clark respectively (based on Angela and John Baker). The calendar saga, from conception to realization and international fame, is centered in the fictional village of Knapley. Harper originally gets the idea after 1) finding a soft porn magazine hidden in her teenage son's room and 2) noticing a girlie calendar on the wall of a village shop. The plan is to produce and sell 500 copies of the calendar to raise the 900 pounds necessary to buy a new sofa for the Relatives' Waiting Room in the local hospital in which John Clark died of his disease. Not only must Chris and Annie surmount the understandable reluctance of their friends and fellow WI members to pose nude (not "naked"), but also convince the chairwomen of the District and National WI that the reputation of the organization won't be sullied.
There is, of course, some nudity in the film, but, as on the calendar itself, it's discreetly done. The naughty bits are strategically hidden by sticky buns, flowering plants, and such. But enough of Helen Mirren is seen for the viewer to realize that physical beauty and maturity of "that certain age" are not mutually incompatible.
Though the script touches on such sober subjects as teenage drug use and spousal infidelity, the film as a whole is delightfully witty, charming, warm, and poignant. And then there are the beautiful Yorkshire towns and fells in which the movie was shot. Is this one of the year's best films? No. Is it a great cinematic achievement? No again. But, I'm giving it five stars anyway because, as an entertainment vehicle, it's everything I ask for when I go to a motion picture show. I sat and watched with a silly smile on my face for almost the entire run time, and left the cinema in no way unsatisfied. What more could one reasonably want?
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shows a woman's true beauty, add another 5 stars, March 8, 2005
This review is from: Calendar Girls (DVD)
I don't think "Calender Girls" got ever got the credit it deserved. The movie had all the important elements to make it a hit. It was funny, sad, daring, creative, unique, a true story and it had partial nudity. What was missing was special effects, improbable story lines, obnoxious characters and expensive sets, all things I do well without. Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect 1-6, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Gosford Park, Raising Helen) and Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Educating Rita) were fantastic and exuded beauty that transcends beyond age. This is an uplifting movie that I first rented but then bought to keep in my collection. It's not just for baby boomers and above, both my kids, ages 15 and 10 enjoyed it too. My ten year old, a boy, roars with belly laughter at the movie's most famous line

"I think we're going to need significantly bigger buns."

This is a must-see for anyone who has ever truly loved a woman. "Calendar Girls" makes a great Mother's Day gift too!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very British comedy, October 6, 2003
There may be some eyebrows raised over the decision to release this movie in the UK, France, Germany and practically everywhere else in the world before the USA. I'm not sure I understand it fully myself, but I can see that to show it first in the USA could have been risky. Three-quarters of the way through the film, several of the 'girls' go to Hollywood where some of them don't have an altogether wonderful time. I guess the producers wanted to establish some international momentum for the movie before letting it loose on an American public who could regard it as anti-tinseltown.
The movie itself stays pretty close to the real-life story -- even the classic quote about "no front-bottoms" is faithfully melded into the strong script. Julie Walters and John Alderton put in superb performances as the loving husband and wife soon to be parted by leukemia. Helen Mirren is also very good in her part, and I guess I wasn't the only male, in what I have to admit was a mainly female audience, who was glad that Mirren had revoked her previous commitment never to remove her clothes on screen again!
In its wonderful depiction of the rugged, hilly landscape, the movie should do wonders for the Yorkshire Tourist Board. But it will probably be less helpful for recruitment to the Women's Institute, even though the WI is backing this movie on their Web site. The WI is seen as being endlessly concerned with trivia and with protecting its wholesome reputation. (You will get very fed up with piano renditions of 'Jerusalem' by the end!)
What flaws does the film have? Well, there's no climax in the place that you'd normally expect it. Some loose ends which should have been tied up don't get tied up -- for instance, do the girls eventually take off their clothes again for the Hollywood ad?
As a concept, the plot comes dangerously close to disappearing up its own end. At one level, the story says "This calendar must have been a great achievement because a film was made about it." But this is that film. So, if the film hadn't been made, would it have been such a great achievement? The scriptwriters are plainly aware of this paradox, so there is plenty of self-doubt that plagues the characters by the end.
Several of the original calendar girls refused to have anything to do with the movie, which was in part financed by Disney. I can see their point -- if the media world is alien to you, it's hard to get involved without feeling sullied -- but ultimately the world is a slightly better place for this movie having been made, and I don't know anyone who hasn't enjoyed seeing it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calendar Girls is a good thing, July 9, 2004
By 
Mark J. Fowler "Let's Play Two!" (Blytheville, Arkansas (The "the" is silent)) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Calendar Girls (DVD)
I like to see movies where ordinary folks do extraordinary things, and Calendar Girls pulls this off with a little heart and a twinkle of the eye.
Helen Mirren as Chris and Julie Walters as Annie lead the exceptional cast.
The ladies of the local chapter of the Women's Institute meet regularly where they hear lectures from horticulturalists and others who speak on topics that aren't exactly exciting. Annie's Husband John is a nice chap who develops leukemia. Annie and her family and Chris spend a fair amount of time at the hospital waiting on an uncomfortable sofa - the kind of sofa that matches a hospital waiting room with magazines spread out from years past.
The Women's Institute does a calendar every year - usually on some agricultural theme. When John passes away Annie and Chris get the idea to do a different calendar. They want to take tasteful nude photos of themselves and make this the new WI Calendar. Any proceeds they plan to use to replace the worn out old sofa at the hospital.
The Calendar becomes a huge hit, sells tens of thousands of copies, and suddenly the 50-something homebodies are juggling their previous domestic lives along with reporters and offers from Hollywood. The narrative conflict begins in the second act as the families feel neglected and the women begin to have a little friction (Annie, who has just lost John, thinks that Chris is shamefully neglecting her still-living husband.) The third act feels a little rushed. There are many movies that are made a little loooooong, but this film wraps up as if the writer, director and editor looked down at their watches and said "well, we've only got ten minutes left, lads, better wrap things up!" Things are wrapped up - and pleasantly - so I recommend this movie. It probably misses the under-30 demographic entirely, but for anyone who likes the idea that a woman over 50 could be sexy, this movie is a nice shot in the arm.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet and Likeable! Also (gasp) kinda sexy!, May 14, 2004
By 
Brett D. Cullum (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Calendar Girls (DVD)
I went into watching CALENDAR GIRLS dreading it might be a female rip-off of THE FULL MONTY. No need to fear, because the movie is about a lot more than aping a successful indie formula. The movie centers on a group of women of Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, England who through a tragedy decide to raise money for a hospital with their annual calendar. The only catch? These well-aged women are going to pose in the buff with strategically placed items of household drudgery hiding the naughty bits and pieces. And when the calendar comes out? They all have to deal with the infamy that comes along with posing nude. And deal with success as well! Or new found confidence.
It is a story rich dramatically and still just plain funny. The nudity is tasteful, and not all that revealing. Think Dianne Keaton's SOMETHINGS GOT TO GIVE flash, and you get the idea. And Helen Mirren and a STRONG cast give it all a dignified English air that plays well. I really loved this movie. It made me smile widely! And hammered home the message that beauty is in ALL forms. Everybody has a shine to them, and the 50 MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE are the ones with the courage to make fun of themselves and smile all the while. No body doubles here either! Yea for them! Brave women with "bigger buns!".
The DVD is a special treat. You get a documentary on the real life CALENDAR GIRLS who look a lot like their film counterparts. You also get to see the movie cast MAKING the calendar! Okay, maybe just TALKING about making it. Also you get some deleted scenes, and assorted trailers.
I'm getting sunflowers for my house just to remind me of people that always reach for the sun! Very nice image. We need more movies like this -- celebrating wisdom and friendship. And hey - it's just simple fun.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entirely Infectious (Except I'm Not Tying This In The Buff), January 18, 2004
CALENDAR GIRLS is one of those rare films that, from the onset, provokes a knowing smile and then maintains the energy to keep you smiling up until the bold finish.
GIRLS has been given a lot of press for its premise -- the true story of some not-quite-over-the-hill prim & proper English ladies who concoct the idea to make their annual "prim & proper English ladies" calendar not so much in the ordinary but, rather, in the semi-nude, concealing the 'proper bits' and leaving the real deal to the imagination. Helen Mirren, as Chris, gives a brave performance of a woman finding herself by having to -- literally -- strip down to the basics, but she's supported by a incredibly gifted and attractive supporting cast who hold their own (no pun intended) in this plan to raise money for the local hospital.
The charm surrounding GIRLS is that the film -- as the story progresses to the point of the photo shoot -- becomes less-and-less a statement on nudity; rather, the script brilliantly grows more and more around these characters: a woman coming to terms with the loss of her husband, another discovering that her husband is a creepy philanderer, etc. Sure, there are discussions about female empowerment for "seasoned" women, but these are largely relegated to the background in favor of some excellent character writing.
All in all, GIRLS feels a bit weighted down in the last third by the two leads' rediscovered friendship, but, come the last few images of these ladies still enthralled by their fellowship, it's a calculated misstep easily forgiven ... given the bare facts.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Diversion!, October 1, 2004
This review is from: Calendar Girls (DVD)
A pleasant movie depicting small town life in England, and perhaps in other places as well. The friendship of the women is laudable, and that kind of thinking and action is missing from so much of life here in the US. Women who have known each other for many, many years and who obligate themselves to regularly attend scheduled meetings of the Women's Institute, despite boredom and disinterest of many of them with the meetings' agendas. The women still attend, and maintain their contact with each other . . for what? . . for friendship! The nude calendar, where the women are not really shown nude, is a pleasant diversion for them, compensating them for years of listening to experts on broccoli and the vagaries of toast, etc. How realistic is the story??? . . . I hope that places like this do exist.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Charm, January 24, 2006
This review is from: Calendar Girls (DVD)
This film, like the true story it is based on, is not trying to be anything that it is not. It is a thoughtful, feel-good movie that is full of charm, wit, and great one-liners. It features fine acting and glorious cinematography of English country sides. It breaks stereotypes and empowers the individual, all while making you laugh. What more could you ask for?
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Calendar Girls
Calendar Girls by Nigel Cole (DVD - 2004)
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