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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Man's Land
"The Women" is the film "Sex and the City" wishes it was. There are some distinct similarities: both are about a group of female friends living in New York; both feature quirky main characters; both tackle relationship and fidelity issues; both look at life through a very witty filter (mostly to a fault). But "The Women" is the superior film, and that's only partly...
Published on September 13, 2008 by Chris Pandolfi

versus
49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good grief!
The original version of this story remains a film classic, with memorable writing, direction and legendary performances by Norma Shearer, Roz Russell, Mary Boland, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler (at one point Doris Day's sister-in-law), Paulette Goddard and most notably Joan Crawford. That version was witty, wise, bitchy, mean and sympathetic, fast-paced, fun and...
Published on June 11, 2009 by Jim Andrews


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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good grief!, June 11, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
The original version of this story remains a film classic, with memorable writing, direction and legendary performances by Norma Shearer, Roz Russell, Mary Boland, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler (at one point Doris Day's sister-in-law), Paulette Goddard and most notably Joan Crawford. That version was witty, wise, bitchy, mean and sympathetic, fast-paced, fun and sophisticated. This version is appalling. This a story which relies on chemistry among the actors above all in this remake the chemistry is zero. Everyone seems to be reciting the script self-consciously, there is not a moment when there's any sense we are watching real life, everything seems calculated and over-rehearsed. It's like a bad community production. How all this happened given the talents of Diane English and everyone else involved is beyond me. Even foolproof Bette Midler and Candace Bergen seem to be repeating themselves with no spark. Only Cloris Leachman emerges unscathed. Actually, there seems to be no movie here, just a parade of scenes on movie sets. Thank God Hedda Hopper will never see it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars People should be punished for this ...., January 2, 2009
By 
DonMac "butchm" (Lynn, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
Q: What happens when you take a classic film full of razor-sharp wit, humor, and melodrama and remake it it with none of those ingredients and a group of actresses so bad that your dvd player smells? A: this remake of the Women.

Half of them have so little screen time (I'm talking about you Jada and Eva)that they will live this stinker down better than others. It's primarily the Meg and Annette show.

Poor Meg seems to have done a bunch of really bizarre surgical things to her face and it is really distracting. She looks like Sally left Harry to go to a Halloween party. Annette, for some really bizarre reason that defies logic, seems to be channeling Kim Cattral throughout! That's like watching Sarah Bernhard pretend to be Karen Valentine!

Anyway, other the the title, a couple of stolen lines and character names, purists can rest easy. These two movies have so little in common it's amazing. This is more like The Powderpuff Girls save the world. YUCK!
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "We can have it all. The question is, do we want it?", July 26, 2009
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
When Hollywood remakes a classic, it does so with a vengeance, in this case 1939s "The Women", a tale of New York socialite Mary Haines (Norma Shearer in 1939, Meg Ryan in 2008) whose husband is stolen by an opportunistic hussy. In the original, a careless gossip reveals a scandalous affair, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks poaching the man of a beloved, gentle woman and faithful wife. Like the current remake, no one suffers financial distress in either film. Where such movies served to distract a country burdened by the long years of the Depression, the 2008 version is nothing but a paean to Sex and the City and its ilk.

The crisp, acerbic dialog that fed the drama of a heartless housebreaker determined to secure her future in 1939 has been watered down to support vague cameo appearances, but the context is lost in a twisted mess of improbable solutions and sloppy writing. When Mary Haines gathers with ladies in similar situations getting "quickie" divorces in Reno 1939, the modern group goes to a health farm, where Ryan smokes a joint with Bette Midler and ruminates on where she's gone wrong. While the first film offered fresh faces destined for long term stardom, Eve Arden, Paulette Goddard, Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford, the new one is a rogue's gallery of cosmetically altered actresses, some more gruesome than others.

Meg Ryan- sporting a mouth that is part Meg, part Calista Flockhart and part Michelle Pheiffer- sullies Shearer's former role with braggadocio about her performance in the bedroom (something about nails and boards) and a hapless Annette Benning apologizes for exposing her friend to the rabid tabloid gossip. Bette Midler makes a bold, if shocking cameo, as though she stumbled onto the wrong set. And what could be more absurd than casting Crawford's iconic role with the sultry Eva Mendes (the extent of her role is a few lines delivered in sexy lingerie or in a bath tub)? Sadly, the coming to self of a married woman still in love with an unfaithful husband becomes Ryan's tongue-in-cheek parody of a new identity, complete with Annie Lennox anthem in the background.

For all the wasted efforts of such greats as Candice Bergin and Cloris Leachman, there are a few stellar moments: 5 stars to Annette Benning for a performance that transcends the vapid material, a short, but punchy role by Debi Mazar, the gossipy nail lady who spreads the rumors and a terrific one-liner by natural comedic actress Ana Gasteyer. In contrast, Jada Pinkett-Smith is a brash lesbian, Debra Messing's considerable talent is wasted, and Carrie Fisher? Well, she's just... Carrie Fisher.

An iconic comedy of manners and the danger of gossip is turned into a frivolous chick flick in an effort that does no justice to the sophistication of the original in this uncomfortable ensemble piece. It says something about the state of filmmaking for actresses over forty when all the public is offered is this warmed up hash with neither plot nor substance, a sad commentary when talented actresses are forced to alter their faces to remain relevant in a youth-obsessed society. Shame on Hollywood- and the screenwriter, producers and director- for presenting these actresses with such substandard fare. Luan Gaines/2009.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Man's Land, September 13, 2008
By 
"The Women" is the film "Sex and the City" wishes it was. There are some distinct similarities: both are about a group of female friends living in New York; both feature quirky main characters; both tackle relationship and fidelity issues; both look at life through a very witty filter (mostly to a fault). But "The Women" is the superior film, and that's only partly because of its much more tolerable sense of humor; the characters in this film are examined maturely, allowing us to see them as more than shallow, artificial caricatures. I actually felt something for these women. I cared about them and wondered what would happen to them. While not faithful to either George Cukor's 1939 film or the original play by Clare Boothe Luce, this new film is a delight from beginning to end, and it plays true to its title by not featuring a single male character.

The plot mainly focuses on fashion designer Mary Haines (Meg Ryan), who, in addition to being fired by her own father, discovers that her well-known husband, Stephen, is having an affair with Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes), a perfume saleswoman from Saks Fifth Avenue. Standing by Mary is her best friend, magazine editor Sylvia Fowler (Annette Benning), who had already heard about the affair through a gossipy manicurist (Debi Mazar). Sylvia, as it turns out, is having problems of her own; her magazine isn't selling as well as it used to, meaning she's inches away from being fired. Desperate to keep her career alive, she sells Mary's high-profile story to a tabloid writer (a cameo by Carrie Fisher), which, as you might expect, threatens to destroy their friendship. She's no longer sure she can trust anyone, and this includes her other two friends, writer Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith), and the ever-pregnant Edie Cohen (Debra Messing).

Would this story be better or worse if male characters were included? Chances are it would be worse, simply because male/female relationship stories are a dime a dozen. What makes "The Women" unique is that it forces the main character to analyze her situation from an entirely feminine perspective. A man--be it her husband, a friend, a brother, or even a stranger--is not there to influence her one way or another. Think about all the recent romantic comedies in which the male leads inevitably profess their undying love for the female co-stars: every scene like that is always so contrived, so out of touch with anything realistic or even plausible. No such scene exists in "The Women." Through the support of her friends, the wisdom of her mother (Candice Bergen), the loyalty of her housekeeper (Cloris Leachman), and an awful lot of soul searching, Mary has to determine on her own whether or not she wants to take her husband back. The question is: Does he want to be taken back? Is he still in love with her, or has he moved on?

An interesting subplot focuses on the relationship between Mary and her eleven-year-old daughter, Molly (India Ennenga), who often feels unheard and misunderstood. She doesn't appreciate her mother's meaningless assertions that everything will be all right. Clearly, it won't be. She misses the love her parents shared, a love that always put an extra bounce in her mother's step. And like many young girls growing up in Western society, she believes she fat (even though she's anything but). Mary, consumed with her own problems, fails to notice the warning signs her daughter is giving off. So imagine her surprise when she learns that Molly is turning to Sylvia for advice--Sylvia, a childless woman who threw her best friend to the wolves. The confrontation between her and Mary is an interesting scene, not only because it's heartfelt and humorous at the same time, but also because of the way it's constructed; they defend themselves at the start, but by the end, one knows exactly where the other is coming from. If only all disagreements could end that way.

On a women's retreat, Mary meets an agent named Leah Miller (another cameo by Better Midler). As they share a joint in their cabin, Leah reveals her secret to living life: Be selfish. Don't care about what others want. The sooner you ask, "What do I want?" the sooner you'll be content. I can't say whether or not Mary takes this idea to heart, given how she really feels about her husband. What I can say is that the women of "Sex and the City" followed it to a tee. Rarely have I seen characters so shallow, so annoying, so lacking in redeeming qualities.

Thank goodness "The Women" goes in a much different direction. The pleasure of watching this movie comes from knowing that writer/director Diane English added depth to the characters. Granted, some were given more attention than others; Jada Pinkett Smith and Debra Messing weren't given much screen time, which is disappointing considering the narrative potential of their characters. This is especially true of Messing's character, the eccentric Edie, who announces early on that she'll keep getting pregnant until she has a boy (she already has three daughters). Wouldn't it be fun if she were the best friend instead of Sylvia? Or what about Smith's character, Alex, made openly gay for this modernized version? Both characters come dangerously close to being extraneous. Maybe it would have been better if the story focused on two friends instead of four. Be that as it may, "The Women" is a charming, well-acted, well-plotted film--about the most fun you'll have in a male-free environment.
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36 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How bad can bad be....., December 31, 2008
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This review is from: The Women (DVD)
There is bad and then there is really bad and the there is the remake of The Women which adds a new low to bad. A great cast wasted on a really bad script. How can one of the funniest plays in B'way History be turned into a dull mess where all the women end up being boring... even Bette Middler ;who can save most anything; couldn't lift this Turkey out the mud! The casting was right, but the ladies had nothing to work with. Leachman who is super funny didn't have a single funny line. Don't waist you money on this ....
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The City of Women, September 25, 2008
By 
Galina (Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
The Women (2008) by Diane English is sadly such a waste of talent. With Annette Benning, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman whom I like and enjoy in everything I've seen them, and Meg Ryan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, and Eva Mendes who may not be my favorite actors but are nice to look at, how could the movie be boring, predictable, embarrassing, sloppy, and simply bad? It was made by Diane English who is known as the writer of the very successful TV show Murphy Brown, and it is her first movie for which she wrote a script. The movie has been a labor of love for English who had tried for many years to make it happen and I respect that. I even found the scenes with the supporting players, Bergen, Leechaman, Carry Fisher and Bette Middler in short but memorable cameos, funny, smart, and enjoyable but in general the movie is a second hand "Sex and the City" which was released few months ago. I did not find Sex and the City very good when I saw it but next to The Women, it was simply brilliant. At least, Sex and the City spared us the long and tasteless scene in the hospital's delivery room where one of the characters' was having a baby and her friends were there supporting her. Poor Debra Messing, what did she do to deserve that nightmare she was put through and we, the viewers together with her? The movies like "The Women" give the whole genre, chick flicks, a bad name. It is nothing wrong with the genre, but why is it so difficult to make a really good comedy about female friendships and hardships, about dealing with marriage, motherhood, and proving yourself professionally? These are all very compelling and important subjects any modern woman can relate to. Why making movies with the lines, dialogs, and situations so clichéd, predictable, not funny and insulting that they will be forgotten as soon as the movie is over?

After I saw the new movie, I checked out from my local library the original The Women and I truly enjoyed it. The story was told much better 70 years ago, and kept my interest all the way. The old movie had a real star power.

1.5/5
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So Bad !!!, December 21, 2008
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
I actually rented this movie with an open mind, I've watched the orignal many times and thought that it was ahead of it's time. I was right, this remake is pretty awful! Even though it steals so many of the witty lines from the original, which was released in 1939, this movie is so boring and badly acted that I barely could keep myself focused on watching it. Do yourself a big favor, and rent the original and place this one in the "Forget" pile!!!!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The PC Girls, December 28, 2008
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
Diane English said she thought the original was "mean"...oh brother! Political Correctness is so damned boring. Why, oh why, do these Hollywood twits re-make Great Movies? Why don't they re-make lousy movies and try to make them better? I think it's just a lack of imagination. This 2008 version is to the 1939 version what warm Kool-Aid is to Champagne. Claire Booth Luce wrote a play, "THE WOMEN", which is sophisticated and razor-sharp funny. Joan Crawford's Crystal Allen alone would blow all these cutesy gooey girls off the screen. No comparison. If you like warm Kool-Aid, then by all means have the re-make. But, if you like wit and style, nothing can top "THE WOMEN" which has a stellar cast but also was directed by one of Hollywood's greats, GEORGE CUKOR.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting and shallow, January 31, 2009
This review is from: The Women (DVD)
This movie has a great cast but there was absolutely no chemistry between the women. It was hard to believe that they would even be friends; a stereotypical lesbian, earth mother, career woman and the "happily" married working mother. I didn't care about any of these women. This is a good movie to pick up at your local library and watch for free to pass a few hours but that's about all it's worth.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One star is too many!, January 2, 2009
By 
Maureen (Louisiana, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Women (Amazon Instant Video)
This movie is neither intelligent nor humorous. While I am unfortunately acquainted with women who are as self-indulgent and insipid as the women in this film, I would certainly never waste two hours with them. Why then waste two hours with "The Women"?

This film may have been tolerable had the characters not been turned into caricatures. Jada Pinkett Smith as the "lesbian", Eva Mendes as the "mistress" and Annette Bening as the "feminist" were cartoonish.
Meg Ryan's portrayal of the betrayed wife was completely flat and all I can say about the Debra Messing character is that it defies description.

This movie is a complete waste of time.
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