2008-10-03 / Columnists

MovieScope

'The Women' - Sexless, The City and Suburbia
Review By Robert Snyder

Though Hollywood refuses to believe it, lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, much less three times.

The box office success of the movie version of the hit TV series, "Sex and the City," can't be reproduced by taking four established actresses and expecting the same chemistry as that between Sarah Jessica Parker and company. The recent update of the 1939 George Cukor classic, "The Women," is proof.

Based on that 70-year-old film and the Clare Boothe Luce play, "The Women," struggles to make the concept of a non-male movie work.

The idea is that a close-knit group of girls can sustain themselves and entertain the audience for two hours of film time … without a man on screen. However, "Sex and the City" improves on the woman-power point by showing that a female inner circle perseveres best when adorable, goodhearted men remain around the edges, but definitely in the picture. It also makes for better sex scenes, as opposed to none at all.

Comprising the nucleus of "The Women" remake are actresses Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith, playing four friends facing a crisis. The crisis occurs when Manhattan magazine editor Sylvie Fowler (Bening) learns from her gossipy manicurist that the Wall Street tycoon husband of rich, pampered, but oh-so-sweet suburbanite Mary Haines (Ryan) is having an affair with gorgeous Saks "perfume bitch" Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes). Sylvie puts bosom-buddies, ever-pregnant Edie Cohen (Messing) and writer/lesbian Alex Fisher (Smith), on high alert. They confront the gold-digger/ home wrecker, who sprays them with designer perfume. Ouch! They then inform Mary, who already knows, thanks to the loose lips manicurist.

Because of age-old anti-feminist advice from her mother (Candice Bergen), Mary decides to keep quiet and let the sexual storm pass. However, Sylvie won't accept that and sets up an underwear war between Mary and Crystal in a fitting area.

Written and directed by Diane English of TV's "Murphy Brown," "The Women" sits like soggy oatmeal, never producing any snap, crackle, pop. It's a waste of fine actresses, who should stay far from Sarah Jessica Parker's private island.

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