2004-02-13 / Columnists

MovieScope By Robert Snyder

‘Calendar Girls’ – The Full Ms. Monies

What do middle-aged women do to have fun and stimulate funds for charity in Yorkshire, England? Pose nude for a calendar, naturally.

"Calendar Girls" is the flip side of "The Full Monty," where the most progressive and bored member of York shire’s Knapely chapter of the Wo men’s Institute arrives at the unique notion to raise money for a new hospital hospice sofa after she spots a provocative calendar at an auto mechanic’s shop. Chris (Helen Mir ren) wants to pull in big bucks in memory ofA0JohnA0 (John Alderton), the late husband of her best friend and fellow member Annie (Julie Walters). The local florist dies of cancer, leaving behind an emotional letter. In it, he compares the women of Knapely to its flowers that grow more attractive with age. "The last stage is always the most glorious" are his words read before the weeping, blush ing W.I. audience at a chapter meeting. (It should be noted that "Calendar Girls" is the second feature film released in past weeks to promote the sexuality of middle-aged women85 the other being "Something’s Gotta Give. Could this be a turnaround trend for the usually youth-obsessed movie business?)

Directed by Nigel Cole from the Juliette Towhidi/Tim Firth screenplay, "Calendar Girls" holds its own when it comes to tastily ribald wit, while managing to milk more than its share of laughs from a one-note, somewhat dated idea. MirrenA0 and Walters are buoyant as bosom buddies (literally), although a rift develops when Holly wood beckons causing Chris to neglect her husband Rod (Claran Hinds) and son Jem (John-Paul MacLend) for fame and glory stemming from an appearance before Jay Leno onA0 the "Tonight Show." Although Chris’s family suffers a bit of backwash from the controversial calendar, the husbands in general have their moments of levity when they pine away in the local pub while their wives strip for the camera.

Based on a true story, the middle-aged models did draw in much more money than expected85not only financing a sofa, but a new hospital wing to house it.A0Maybe, volunteers for the March of Dimes should contact Hugh Hefner?A0Well, it’s just a thought.
A0Check out "Calendar Girls" if you’re in the mood for a few chuckles to keep the winter cold away.

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