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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Retro Review: The First Wives Club (1996)

The First Wives Club 
Cast: Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Marcia Gay Harden, Sarah Jessica Parker, Elizabeth Berkley, Maggie Smith
Genre: Comedy
US Box Office Gross: over $180 million 

Plot: After years of helping their hubbies climb the ladder of success, three middle-aged women are dumped in favour of their younger counterparts. But the trio are determined to turn their pain into gain by coming up with a clearly devious plan to hit them where it really hurts - their wallets

'Somewhat Dated Gender Portrayals, Unfunny Attempts At Humour & Too Misogynistic At Heart Makes First Wives A Dud'

This film is basically Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 but without the consistent humour and smart writing that goes with it. Surprisingly, it is also based on a book, which I have no interest in reading. The whole thing just came across as being too messy, unfunny to boot and with characters I didn't and couldn't emphasise with and support. 

The premise itself, that being three women getting their revenge on their husbands, is promising, yet its execution and the way it is handled that is so unfunny, not so impressive and which in turn collapses into a heap of a mess during the mid-way point onwards. 

The terrible male characters were terrible; in the fact they were written as shallow cads and lowlifes. Had this film portrayed them on the same wavelength and equal playing level as the women, then I would buy into this film more. The other women, but for the lesbian daughter of one of the wives, are written as bimbos. If the characters were given equal footing insofar as their portrayals go and they weren't so egotistical, unsympathetic, greedy, manipulative, then sure, I would have enjoyed it. 

Instead, these socialites come across as being spoiled sports and so pretentious and arrogant to the point that their arrogance makes you see through this facade that they are putting on.  

I couldn't muster up much sympathy or support towards the women, or be it, wives, because they built their lives and identities around these men, and when they weren't happy, they just ditched them just like that. I think one of the men got back with one of the women in this film. By refusing to let go and move on for the sake of themselves, and instead, seek revenge just shows that the women are as bad as the men in The First Wives Club.

At the root, the movie's 'theme' or be it moral of the story goes, is that all men are scum and of whom behave this way, especially, thus implying that they are dogs and all women are wonderful. I don't believe one being better than the other, both men and women are equal and should be treated as such. As a woman myself, to see this type of message evoked and reinforced in this film I was taken aback by it. & towards the end, the film tries to redeem itself and realise that after all, that not all men are scum, pigs, of whom ditch their older wives for younger girlfriends. I'm sorry but this film evokes the type of pro-feminist bullcrap these people have been trying to shove down our throats. 

It's disappointing to see Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton lend themselves to this film; great talents as they are and as good humoured as this offering tries to be, it, in fact, comes across as very cowardly, at times cynical and thus, false-hearted & this is all buried underneath a vaguely sadistic and mean-spirited tale of revenge and through means of female empowerment. For years, female actresses, especially in Hollywood, have been championing for strong, female roles in films, which have been virtually limited or barely touched upon. Which is good to see; however, its efforts can by no means be aided by dated and stereotypical gender portrayals of women; as seen in those of Hawn's, Midler's and Keaton's characters in The First Wives Club. 

The comedy aspect is another big fat fail: I didn't laugh at all whilst I was watching this and the so-called attempts at humour fell so short and were flat and were far too misogynistic for it to make me smile.  

Final Verdict:

But yet, for all of its attempts at portraying men in a negative light and all the women to be brilliant, for all of its implied messages, it still doesn't know what it wants to be. Though I'm sure for the author of the book, the director of this film, its intentions weren't meant to be taken seriously, but even so, its execution came off as being too crude, harsh, vicious and too pro-, man- hating feminist for me to like and in the context of comedy. 

Oh and the comedy just wasn't funny enough. Coupled with a directionless and insipid screenplay, despite the combined skills of Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, The First Wives' Club is too misandristic for me to ever enjoy it fully and properly.  


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