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She-Devil (1989)

  Directed by: Susan Seidelman
Written by: Mark R. Burns, Barry Strugatz, Fay Weldon
Starring: Ed Begley Jr., Roseanne, Meryl Streep
Links: She-Devil on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"A comedy gem" - a review by andy-j

Ruth (Roseanne) and Bob Patchett (Ed Begley Jr.) are a normal married couple with two teenage kids. Bob works as an accountant, and is trying to expand his client base to include high-profile celebrities and creative types. Enter Mary Fisher (Meryl Streep), a beautiful and very rich romance novelist who lives a fairytale lifestyle in her big pink mansion with her little poodle and her army of servants. Bob not only manages to land her as a client, but also manages to land her in bed, and he soon leaves poor boring, unattractive and overly-domesticated Ruth for the glamourous Miss Fisher. So Ruth decides to take matters into her own hands, and starts to very subtly manipulate the events around her husband's new life by systematically taking away everything he values. She strips herself of everything and starts from scratch, building herself up while tearing her husband to pieces, but he never realises she is even remotely involved. And soon, poor Bob's life collapses into a mess.

She-Devil won't make you laugh out loud, and it certainly won't set the world on fire. It's about as far from a sophisticated and subtle work as this review is. But it's a lot of fun, nonetheless. The characters are stereotypical, one-dimensional and over-the-top, but that is what makes them so amusing. As I've stated in previous reviews, comedy is never about the jokes - it's about the characters. And the characters here are a goldmine. Meryl Streep goes from being ridiculously precious to being jaded and bitter. Watching her fall from grace is a scream. Ruth, on the other hand, goes from unremarkable housewive to a strong, ironic hero. She never becomes too jaded, and maintains a dark sense of humour throughout. She makes you want to cheer. The cast obviously had a ball making it, being allowed to go to town with their characters. At the same time, the plot never quite goes too far, so you never feel like the whole thing is stupidly ridiculous and just *too* unbelievable. Another reason that this appeals are the basic themes - those of the underdog rising up to defeat the favourite, starting with nothing and against all odds.

I'm pleased to say that, being made in 1989, Roseanne did not (yet) take herself too seriously, and seemed quite able to really let loose. She is terrific in this. You'll probably think this She-Devil is the stupidest thing you've ever watched (probably the majority's view). Or if you're like me, you'll appreciate it for not only being completely outrageous and silly, but for not pretending to be anything else, and, in fact, relishing in what it is like a dog rolling around in the mud. I'm not sick of it yet, and I reckon I've seen it at least 10 times.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 19 Dec 2005

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