New on DVD: The Women

It is hoped the title is based on the status of the women playing the roles because the characters are nothing but patterned stereotypes of women.

Mary (Meg Ryan) designs for her father’s clothing label, alongside being a mother to a tween and wife to a workaholic. Her best friends are Sylvia (Annette Bening), editor of a sinking fashion magazine; Alex (Jada Pinkett Smith), a lesbian enjoying bachelorhood; and Edie (Debra Messing), who is pregnant for the umpteenth time. But Mary’s world is turned upside-down when she discovers her husband’s late nights away from home have been spent with another woman (Eva Mendes). What follows is Mary’s struggle to discover her independent identity and overcome the betrayal of a friend.

Most of the great chick flicks share certain common plot points: revenge, death and/or birth. The Women only covers one of the three and based on the major plot point, it’s the wrong one. Infidelity screams for reprisal and although self-improvement is the best theoretically, it is not the most entertaining; particularly when Mary’s selfish pursuit of her own happiness results in her neglecting her daughter.

Each of the four women is a cliché but Sex and the City has been done and these women are not nearly as interesting no matter how well they fit their roles; i.e. Ryan has always been the perfect mate and Bening can surely play the career woman. On the other hand, Ryan is repeatedly outshined by strong cameos from Candice Bergen, who plays her experienced mother, and Bette Midler, who portrays a flamboyant, reefer-loving Hollywood agent with philosophical advice.

There are three DVD special features. In “The Women: The Legacy,” writer/director Diane English discusses her adaptation against clips from the original 1939 version, which inevitably highlights the superiority of the black-and-white classic. “The Women Behind the Women” has a 16-year-old junior journalist interviewing cast and crew, which consists almost entirely of women, about body image and self-esteem. It is clips from this featurette that appear at the end of the film’s credits. And there are two additional scenes: the first is entirely insignificant, while the second includes a fantastic extension to Midler’s section but more sappy drivel between Ryan and Bening.

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