6 out of 10
8 out of 10
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Helen Mirren as Chris
Julie Walters as Annie
John Alderton as John
Linda Bassett as Cora
Annette Crosbie as Jessie
Philip Glenister as Lawrence
Ciarán Hinds as Rod
Celia Imrie as Celia
Geraldine James as Marie
Penelope Wilton as Ruth
George Costigan as Eddie
Graham Crowden as Richard
John Fortune as Frank
Georgie Glen as Kathy
Angela Curran as May
The "Naked Truth" Documentary
"Creating The Calendar" Documentary
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
Running Time: 108 Minutes
This film is based on a true story.
Chris and Annie are best friends and members of the Women's Institute, a British society of middle aged women who do crafts and activities in their community. When Annie's husband John dies of leukemia, Chris gets an idea to raise money for the hospital. She wants to do a WI calendar featuring the women in her group. The twist is that she wants them to be nude.
After much negotiation and coping with embarrassment, the women finally pose for the calendar. But what will be the reaction of their fellow WI members, their families, the community, and the media when the calendar hits the streets?
Calendar Girls is rated PG-13 for nudity, some language and drug-related material.
Calendar Girls is a chick flick. Actually, it's a chick flick for middle aged women. (You probably guessed that already from the promos for the film, but I just wanted to reiterate it.) Because of that, I don't exactly fall within the target audience for this movie. I'll admit that I thought it was funny and well acted, but I didn't enjoy it at the same level that others would. That was partly because this movie will make young men squirm. Halfway through this movie as the women were posing nude, my wife said, "You know these women are about the same age as our mothers, right?" To that I responded, "Yes, and that's what bothers me." Because of that I wasn't able to focus on the messages of women empowerment, putting good causes ahead of you, friendship, etc. Yes, it's silly, but I admit it. So there.
Uneasiness about middle aged nudity aside, it was a funny film. Each of the women is a funny character with unique personalities of their own. Chris and Annie snicker at ultra-boring WI meetings that discuss broccoli, family trips, and other mundane topics. At another point in the film Chris wins a baking contest with a store bought cake. She must ashamedly accept the honors as her best friends laugh at her. Later it is shown that the frumpiest woman of the lot has a tattoo with a heart and a snake. That revelation is rather unexpected. Then there's the poor young photographer that must face all of these women to make the photo shoot. The look on his face when he realizes one of them was his former teacher in school is priceless. It's these little jokes on the side that make it funny.
The acting in the film is excellent. Helen Mirren is quite the free spirit as Chris. It's her outgoing personality that helps get the calendar made and drives the story. She's a great match with Julie Walters as Annie. In quite a twist from her Harry Potter role, she's the emotional glue that holds the group together. She plays the full range of emotions as she mourns the loss of her husband, laughs at the making of the calendar, and deals with the aftermath of media attention. The rest of the cast have their highlights as well. Also look for cameos in the film by Jay Leno and Anthrax. (Yes, Anthrax.)
The soundtrack to this film was pretty good, too. It includes a wide range of sounds including B. B. King, The Temptations, chorus music, and even new age music. It's an eclectic mix that works well to set the mood of the scenes.
There are three extras included on the DVD:
The "Naked Truth" Documentary – This is the documentary that I was most interested in. It's a 15 minute feature on the real story behind the film. You meet the real ladies behind the calendar as well as their photographer (the husband of one of the women). You find out what was truth and what was fiction in the film as they interview all of them. There are also shots from the real calendar shown. It's an interesting documentary that's a nice follow-up after seeing the film.
"Creating The Calendar" Documentary – This is your standard "making of" documentary. The actresses talk about what it was like filming the nude scenes and the director, Nigel Cole, discusses the challenges of bringing it to the screen. This video is only around 10 minutes long, but it covers many aspects of making the film.
Deleted Scenes – There are three deleted scenes featured in the movie. The first shows Chris getting caught up in the media hype surrounding the calendar and forgetting to deliver flowers to a funeral. It underlines how she's neglecting her real life for the fame from the calendar. The second scene shows Chris' husband and son discussing why he's so troubled by his mother posing nude for the calendar. In a funny moment the father says that it will make the local paper then be forgotten shortly after. Boy, was he wrong. The final scene shows more of the women and the band members from Anthrax singing together in the hotel lounge. It's kind of funny to see these contrasting types of people mingling together in Hollywood. All in all, it's a good group of deleted scenes.
The Bottom Line:
In the end, Calendar Girls is not a bad movie, but it's not for everyone either. Women are going to enjoy it a lot more than men, but there is a little something here for everyone.