The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Calendar Girls

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Judy Thorburn

Calendar Girls

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

MAKE A DATE TO SEE “CALENDAR GIRLS”

If you liked the mildly risqué British comedy, "The Full Monty" from a few years back, that turned into a sleeper hit and even spawned a successful stage musical of the same name, then the newly released Calendar Girls is sure to be your cup of tea.

Just as Full Monty involved a bunch of average looking men taking it all off for a good cause, Calendar Girls brings to the screen the real life story about some middle aged women in their fifties, who stripped down to their birthday suit, all in name of charity.

Yorkshire, England is the setting.  It is a town of which the local chapter of the Women’s Institute regularly meets to listen to lectures and share recipes and topics as dull as everything there is to know about broccoli.   The county fair may encourage these average housewives to get in the kitchen and attempt to win the first prize in a cake bake off contest, but it won’t grab the attention of the international press.  What does take notice is what happens when Chris (Helen Mirren) comes up with a clever idea after best friend Annie’s (Julie Walters) husband, John (John Alderton) dies of leukemia.  When Chris notices a girlie calendar on the wall of a car repair shop, she devises a plan that could raise enough money to revamp the relatives’ waiting room at the local hospital, a place desperately in need of newer, more comfortable furniture.

Inspired by the lovely poem that John wrote for his wife where he compared the women of Yorkshire to a flower in which the “last stage of the flower is the most glorious”, Chris thinks having Annie and some of the other girlfriends pose discreetly in the nude for a calendar while appearing to be doing such tasteful tasks as knitting, arranging flowers, or playing an instrument would be a great way to make money for a charitable cause and also honor John’s memory.  How the ladies go about getting their organization’s approval along with actually making this calendar happen, and how it succeeded beyond expectations, is the basis of the movie. To top it off, the calendar’s unexpected success and media exposure in the U.K. brought attention in the U.S., and led to an all expense paid trip to America, and a guest spot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Using the true story as the foundation, but most assuredly embellished for the screen, writers Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi deliver a charming and lighthearted comedy filled with numerous situations that are very funny, and never distasteful.  The plotline consists of how these over fifty ordinary women became comfortable enough at their age to deal with posing nude (naked is something else, as they are quick to remark) to finding the right photographer (Philip Glenister), and setting up the photo shoot in which objects like buns, flower arrangements, newspapers and other items are strategically placed so that nothing really shows. Other subplots deal with background family, such as how a reporter’s manipulation of Chris’s supportive husband (Ciaran Hinds, Veronica Guerin) comes into play, her son’s uncomfortable, but very amusing, reaction to seeing his mom in a state of undress, and fellow calendar girl Ruth’s (Penelope Wilton) problems at home with her adulterous, cold husband, Eddie (George Costigan). These add some conflict and drama to this mostly whimsical, enjoyable tale.inds, Vweronica Guerin)H

The top notch ensemble cast is led by the splendid Helen Mirren (Gosford Park) and equally marvelous Julie Walters (Harry Potter films), both cast against type and very convincing – Mirren known for more serious roles takes a turn as the gregarious, take charge, spirited leader of the group and Walters plays the reserved, shy friend, far removed from her usual effervescent, bubby screen characters.  The interactions and warm friendship and loyalties between these close friends and the other women (Celia Imrie, Annette Crosbie, Geraldine James, Linda Bassett, who round out the cast) are touching and inspiring.

Besides being an uplifting story about female empowerment, it is about embracing beauty and appreciating it any stage in life.  These gutsy women turn the untimely death of a loved one into an inspiration for something positive and learned a lot about themselves in the process.

I found Calendar Girls to be another little British gem that shouldn’t be missed. Definitely make a date to see it, if you can.  You are going to find these ladies’ story irresistible.  That’s the naked truth.