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Calendar Girls (2003)

  Directed by: Nigel Cole
Starring: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters
Links: Calendar Girls on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Some Birthday Suits have seen more birthdays than others…" - a review by mino

I'm sure, for a certain section of the populace, the promise of ‘Helen Mirren naked’ is enough to get them into the cinemas post-haste, bums on seats, popcorn in hand, shivering in anticipation. Sure, and good on them. For a certain section of the population, ‘let's dress up in cartoon animal suits and get it on’ holds some level of appeal, too, but that doesn't mean that I'm one of them.

Calendar Girls, therefore, has not spent a great deal of time holding a particularly high place on my ‘must-watch list’. It's ‘based on a true story’; it's got old ladies in it; they take their clothes off; it's supposedly a comedy; it's supposedly heart-warming and touching. To me, all these things add up to spell out three words: Old. Lady. Movie.

Now, look. Some Old Lady Movies can actually be quite good, whether you're an old lady or not. Paradise Road (1997), for example: classic OLM, but actually both entertaining and poignant. For every Paradise Road, though, there's a Driving Miss Daisy (1989) — or, indeed, a couple of dozen of them.

Old Lady Comedies are the worst ones though. Because, you know, Old Lady Comedy isn't funny. Sometimes it's mildly amusing, but more likely it's just puzzling and disturbing.

Well, I'm happy to report that Calendar Girls is, actually, genuinely, honestly, funny. I mean, I laughed out loud a couple of times. Only a couple, mind, but that's a couple more than I was expecting.

Calendar Girls is based on the true story of the girls from the Rylstone Women's Institute in Yorkshire. After one of the ladies' husbands dies of cancer, a group of them vow to raise some money for the local hospital — by replacing their annual calendar, usually something along the lines of ‘Historic Churches of North Yorkshire’, or whatever, with a calendar featuring the WI ladies in the buff.

I don't think I'm giving much away in saying that the calendar is a roaring success, a good time is had by all, etc. etc. In fact, I could pretty much copy-and-paste the script of the movie here and not ruin it: largely because I'm pretty sure if you sat down now, based on my summary above, and wrote your own script for this movie, it would doubtless be remarkably similar to Calendar Girls. ‘Unpredictable’ isn't very high on the list of adjectives you'd use here, put it that way.

Anyway, Calendar Girls is actually something of a treat. It does get quite a bit weaker towards the end — there's a whole ‘going to America’ section which takes up the last half-hour or so of the movie, and frankly might as well have been cut. It changes the tone of the movie somewhat, from ‘earthy rural comedy’ to ‘bumbling English folk in LA’, which is both unfunny and unwelcome.

If you can overlook this section of the movie though, what's left is most definitely a pleasant surprise.

mino gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 18 Dec 2003

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