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1stwivesclub.jpg (53149 bytes)
click for full sized poster

First Wives Club

Starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton
Screenplay by Robert Harling
Based on the novel by Olivia Goldsmith
Directed by Hugh Wilson

If you put names like Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton above the title on a comedy, there is little any reviewer can say to keep the throng away. In this case, there is little negative to say about The First Wives Club, a wonderfully vindictive comedy adapted from the novel by Olivia Goldsmith.

As usual Cranky makes no comparisons to the source material but, since First Wives Club is so consistently funny, I would hope the book is, too. Onwards . . .

When they were young, they were the best of friends, though thirty years later, the four women who went to school together have drifted apart. They all have found excessively successful marriages and/or careers, but it is the suicide of one of their group that brings 'em all together.

The first wives' club is a literal image. First wives of rich husbands dumped for much younger, much thinner, much sexier "showcase" wives. Or, as Brenda (Midler) puts it "pre- schoolers." The net result of the divorces, for these women, is very little. In one case, it is the husband who demands alimony. In all cases, there is a younger woman.

A friend of mine who saw this before I did said it was male-bashing at its finest. But it isn't. The couples that populate First Wives Club are so incredibly rich, as in wealthy, that most of us will never come near the demographic. The males behave like scum, so I say sock it to 'em. It is a comedic fantasy and Goldie Hawn takes the cake. Her performance is a tour de force. Hawn's character is the one who comes up with the scheme; Midler's character (the Jewish one, go figure) comes up with the way to finance the scheme that empowers the members of the club. Keaton, appropriately named Annie Paradise (though you may have fond recollections to Annie Hall) overcomes her submission to the marital hell she has fallen into.

Hawn is the actress whose husband, the producer, rode on her coattails to wealth and fame. Midler's husband, Morty, used her family connections (to, how shall I put it, The Family) to stock his now very successful electronics business. Keaton is the loving wife of a powerful ad exec who continues to have sex with her separated ex, while he sets up habitual bliss with a person very close to both of 'em.

Tossed in, for good effect are Rob Reiner as Hawn's plastic surgeon, Stockard Channing as the First Wife whose suicide kicks the plot into action, and Heather Locklear as the replacement for Channing.

Though it lags by the end, The First Wives Club is a very enjoyable piece of work. One of the few comedies this year that has truly been comedic, as in funny.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for The First Wives Club, he would have paid . . .


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