Who's In It: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar
The Basics: Some rich New York ladies spend their time gossiping about affairs and shopping. Then they bicker and gently stab each other in the back and learn lessons about integrity and friendship and empowerment and career-building and New Age self-help philosophies and child-rearing. Then always-pregnant Debra Messing's water breaks and they all push her on a gurney down a hall with everyone yelling at once. Wacky!
What's The Deal: There was this movie in the late 1930s called The Women. It was catty, non-feminist, hard as nails and chock full of characters that would never be considered role models for anyone, ever. None of the women in that movie were given to self-pitying boo-hoo-hoo moments. It was also really, really funny. This is the remake. And apparently writer-director Diane English (creator of Murphy Brown) hated that first version so much she knew she had to make sure that her remix was its polar opposite. So meet the new Women, full of hollow chuckles and crocodile tears and implausible sisterhood and a boldly defiant refusal to deliver comedy. Because laughing is sexist.
Most Paradoxical Problem, Not Counting The Problem of Its Total Unfunniness: A script that critiques a culture where beauty means extreme weight loss and a reflexive indulgence in freak-a-zoid plastic surgery procedures. And that’s fine. Someone’s got to say these things, after all. But in the service of a finished product that’s populated, for the most part, by women who've done these very things to themselves in order to keep on working.
Who To Feel Sorry For: I mean, as much as you should feel sorry for any monstrously rich movie star, you should pick Meg Ryan. First of all, she's great and deserves better than this. Then there’s the weird moment in the movie where she has to laugh and cry in the same scene and her face can’t seem to accomplish either. And most, I still feel bad that In The Cut tanked at the box office. She gave the serious-movie-with-Jane-Campion option a shot and no one cared, which had to hurt.
Short List Of Weirdnesses Carried Over From The First Movie That No Longer Work At All:
1. An early line of dialogue about the word “bitch” that was really envelope-pushing in 1939 but sounds dumb now.
2. Gossipy manicurists who talk like they’re from an ancient screwball comedy and whose words are the gold standard of accuracy.
3. An insistence that Saks Fifth Avenue is the apex of fancy shopping options in Manhattan.