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Rated 3.03 stars
by 352 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Where the Boys Aren't
by Betty Jo Tucker

An entire movie without one male appearing on screen? Thatís right! The Women features an all-female cast in a story about friendship, betrayal, infidelity -- and manicures. With its splendid cast and witty dialogue, this sparkling comedy entertained me much more than I expected it would, especially after seeing the dreadful previews.

Take a look at the star-studded cast: Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Debi Mazar, Cloris Leachman. Each of these fine actresses gets a chance to shine in The Women. Inspired by the 1939 movie directed by George Cukor, this version takes a different approach and emphasizes loyalty over bitchiness. Itís not as snarky as the original offering, but I found it just as much fun.

Bening and Ryan stand out as two very different types of women. Bening excels in the role of a high-powered business woman, and Ryan is also impressive as a housewife who tries to please everyone. Portraying the two main characters, these fine actresses deliver performances that showcase their talents for both comedy and drama. They play longtime best friends Mary (Ryan) and Sylvia (Bening). When Sylvia learns from a talkative manicurist (Mazar) that Maryís husband is having an affair with a sexy clerk (the always stunning Mendes) at the department storeís perfume counter, she hurries to tell her sister (Messing). Along with their other friend Alex (Pinkett Smith), they decide that Mary must be told about her husbandís indiscretion.  But Mary has already found out, and her friends, instead of surprising her with the news, end up offering her support in dealing with the problem. Will they be a help or a hindrance?

Relationship ups-and-downs between close friends come under scrutiny here, and that part of the movie probably hits home with many viewers. The film suggests that betrayal by a friend can sometimes hurt as much as, or maybe more than, a husbandís infidelity.      

Mother/daughter issues also receive humorous and sensitive attention in The Women. Itís a pleasure watching Candice Bergen lend a lighthearted touch to the role of Maryís wise but vain mother.

Veteran actress Cloris Leachman deserves kudos as a housekeeper who cares about her employer no matter how much she denies it, and so does Carrie Fisher for her amusing cameo as a scheming writer. Bette Midler, in a brief comic turn as a flamboyant agent, evokes a chuckle or two with her outrageous looks and attitude.    

Directed by Diane English of TVís Murphy Brown fame, The Women proves itís possible to make an interesting movie with all the roles played by women. But donít hold your breath, ladies, for men still hold the purse strings in terms of which films get the greenlight in Hollywood. Simply enjoy it while you can.

(Released by Picturehouse Entertainment and rated ďPG-13Ē for sex-related material, language, some drug use and brief smoking.)

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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