Directed by Diane English (Murphy Brown) her feature debut
Starring The Bening (excuse me, who else matters?)
Synopsis A married woman, her husbands mistress, and their catty group of friends get into it
Brought to you by Picturehouse + years and years of development (i.e. casting rumors for decades)
Expected Release Date October 16th, 2008
Nathaniel: Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was the remake of this classic 30s melodramedy (word?) which has been on Hollywood's "to do" list for at least ten years. Wasn't it going to be Meg Ryan vs. Julia Roberts in the mid 90s? The original film was a hilarious rewatchable chatfest among a group of women including a betrayed wife (Norma Shearer -yes!) and the vamp stealing her husband away (Joan Crawford -"boo hiss" in the good way) and their various friends and frenemies. The big cast was a "who's who" of 1930s cinema, women only! If you need a modern comparison you'll have to think of the very retro French musical comedy 8 Women by François Ozon. Will the remake spoil the fun by throwing a man or two in front of the camera? Let's hope not.
Norma Shearer = Meg Ryan
Rosalind Russell = Annette Bening
Joan Crawford = Eva Mendes
Paulette Godard =Jada Pinkett-Smith
Mary Boland = Bette Midler
Phyllis Povah = Debra Messing
Florence Nash = Carrie Fisher
Joan Fontaine, Marjorie Main, Ruth Hussey = somebody somebody and somebody, maybe Cloris Leachman, Candice Bergen, and Debi Mazar?
The list goes on. I just threw up a little from all the blasphemy. And then got excited again from the actressing. HELP ME!
Gabriel: I watched the original again the other day -- it seems to be on Turner Classic Movies every weekend (must be very popular) -- and was struck by three major thoughts regarding the remake (which I'm very excited about). First was the matchup you didn't list among your original-to-now comparisons, the directors: George Cukor = Diane English. Cukor was a living legend and one of the art form's best; English has never directed in Hollywood, and is best known for a long-dead sitcom (Murphy Brown). While that's not to say that she can't do this piece, it makes me nervous... especially when you consider the screen-time balancing act that Cukor pulled off.
The second thought: the original hinges upon the luminous freshness of Norma Shearer, who in my opinion makes the entire piece work by covering fragile plot points with bravura acting. Can Meg Ryan do to the same? Has she ever been that kind of actress in the first place? (And does anyone still think of her as a big star? I don't see even a moderate hit on her resume since Kate and Leopold seven years ago, and she had Hugh Jackman doing the heavy lifting for her there.)
My last thought: it's a little dated. I'm not saying vicious divorces don't happen in 2008, or that circles of friends don't still sometimes turn into circular firing squads. But as dramatic fodder, the idea of women clawing nastily and fighting over their philandering husbands hasn't been a part of mainstream entertainment since Dynasty, and even then it was barely-concealed camp and soap opera. Can The Women make divorce fun again?
Joe: Box-office-wise, I agree with Gabriel that this is going to be a tough sell, but I'm holding out hope that Meg Ryan still has that orgasm-faking stuff when it comes to comedy. In truth, my reservations for this film have reservations, I'm that concerned. The cast seems like such a hodgepodge -- I love the colorblind casting but wish it wasn't Eva Mendes and Jada Pinkett-Xenu specifically. I've seen nothing out of them in their careers that suggests they can pull this kind of comedy off. Weirdly, besides Annette Bening and Bette Midler (who is all but guaranteed a "Best Performance By A Drag Queen" nomination next year), the one person who I think fits the material best is Debra Messing. I wish Diane English well, but I can more easily see this becoming a disaster than a success.
MaryAnn: Oh, god, this is more on my "dreading" list than my "psyched for" one. Debra Messing *and* Meg Ryan in the same movie? Just shoot me now.
Nathaniel: The Bening is not enough to compensate? The Bening will not be pleased to hear this.
MaryAnn: I love the Bening, and I actually think Mendes has a lot of talent and charisma that has not been fully tapped yet. But Messing is like chalk on a board to me.
Glenn: I'm more excited for The Women BECAUSE it seems like such a high-wire act. That cast IS a hodgepodge (although any chance to see Jada Pinkett-Smith and Debi Mazar on screen, I'll take), the director IS untested and so on. I, unlike the rest of you guys it seems, have not seen the original film that this is based on - cry for me, Argentina, it's not out on DVD here - but the prospect of this movie succeeding is enough to make me excited than the more likely notion that it will fail.
Nathaniel: Divided opinions about its ticket-selling potential and the cast.
This one's for the readers: Do you consider this blasphemy? And if so are you just anti-remake in general? Have you obeyed any of my many demands that you watch the original? And if not, what do I have to do to make you fall for the great Norma Shearer, the First Lady of MGM?
#4 Milk / #5 Blindness / # 6 Doubt / #7 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / #8 Revolutionary Road / #9 The Dark Knight / #10 Sex & The City: The Movie / #11 The Lovely Bones / #12 Wall-E / #13 Stop-Loss / #14 The Women / #15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince / Introduction / Orphans