The Women (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 114 minutes - $28.98 || December 19, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-12-30


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Diane English
Writer(s): Clare Boothe Luce (play); Anita Loos and Jane Murfin (1939 screenplay), Diane English (screenplay)
Cast: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith


Theatrical Release Date: September 12, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Digital Copy (Download)


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78), Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

The Women is a remake of a 1939 movie starring Joan Crawford and several other female stars of the time. Adapted and directed by Diane English (“Murphy Brown”), this is a lifeless film that is flat from the opening to end credits and the filler is one cliché after another.

The film stars an ensemble of some talented actresses starting with Meg Ryan as Mary Haines, the wife of a high profile Wall Street shaker and the mother of a body-image-confused girl. Mary discovers that her husband is cheating on her with Saks Fifth Avenue perfume “spritzer” Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes) so with the help best girlfriends Sylvia Fowler (Annette Bening), Edie Cohen (Debra Messing) and Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith), they band together to get through the tough times.

I will give The Women a bit of props on making a movie with an all female cast – this includes even background extras –, though even that is a holdover from the 1939 film. However, this overly long (at only 108 minutes minus end credits) and obnoxious movie is at best boring. The Eva Mendes character is supposed to be the villain and although she is a beeyotch and all, I didn’t quite care for any of the leads either. Meg Ryan has only a couple facial expressions and sleepwalks through the entire film and Annette Bening is just annoying as the film’s secondary focus. The other ladies seem to disappear, especially Alex who I assume Diane English couldn’t decide what to do with her beyond bringing the adaptation into the 21st century making her a lesbian.

If that’s not bad enough, along with a clichéd story about life as a woman – I’m still shocked Destiny Child’s ‘Independent Woman’ was never played –, you have miscasting all over the place. I’m not coming at this on the merits of a remake as I’ve never seen the 1939 original, but instead given this is an all-female cast, chemistry is important and I did not believe for a second that any of these women were best friends. Annette Bening plays the stereotypical businesswoman we’ve (almost) all seen in “Sex and the City” and the other TV show rip-offs (“Lipstick Jungle”, “Cashmere Mafia”) while I have no clue what the hell Debra Messing or Jada Pinkett Smith were doing, because neither of them brought comedy to this so-called dramatic-comedy...

What’s the most perplexing aspect of this entire project (aside from the awful poster/DVD Photoshop artwork) is writer/director Diane English spent a good part of a decade trying to bring this to the big screen. According to one of the featurettes, even during her time on “Murphy Brown” she was working on the screenplay with certain actresses in mind and changing it with each new interested actress (according to IMDb, Lisa Kudrow and Anne Hathaway were at one time going to play characters that were since removed). Exactly what was Ms. English doing during this time? I understand why Warner Brothers took on this project – as flawed as the screenplay was –, but the entire script needed a good rewrite from another writer (to provide a fresh perspective).

But aside from all that, ignoring the clichés, the miscasting and the horrid screenplay and uninspiring direction, The Women is plain boring. My eyes started glazing over about 15-minutes in and I began to think about other things I needed to do. It’s not that I have anything against watching a movie from a woman about women, but given this was supposed to have comedic elements, none of this was funny and in fact it was melodramatic in its premise and obnoxious to boot. Even the sensuous Eva Mendes is misused even in her small role as the mistress.

The Women co-stars a who’s-who of supporting actresses including Carrie Fisher, Debi Mazar, Bette Midler and Candice Bergen.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The disc contains a couple throwaway deleted scenes (6:22), a decent ‘making-of’ entitled The Women: The Legacy (18:44) which features footage from the 1939 original and The Women Behind the Women (10:00) sponsored by Dove and is an interview piece from a high school girl and talks about women’s body image issues. And a downloadable digital copy is available if you hate your iPod... and your life.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The Women comes to DVD on a flipper disc with an anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) version on one side and the full frame on the other. While most sites (like IMDb) report it the OAR is 1.85, per usual Warner Brother’s history, 1.85 aspect ratios are instead expanded to 1.78 (meaning it fills the screen). Not a big deal, just something to note. As for the video itself, Warner has gone and done it again presenting a horribly pixilated picture add to that some soft tones as well.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is, I guess, alright since this is a 98% dialogue movie with the rest filled in with some songs. Sadly, the best part of the audio experience came during Picturehouse’s logo shot; the rest of the film is fairly quiet with the side speakers getting little use.



.::OVERALL::.

The Women is one big misfire after another from beginning to end. The casting is all off and even though it certainly is interesting to see an all female cast, the idea grows old pretty quick at the cost of telling a good story. Instead we have a script with a chockfull of clichés, a cast with no chemistry with one another and overall it’s just a big bore.