Review: The First Wives Club (1996)


The First Wives Club (1996)

Directed by: Hugh Wilson | 103 minutes | comedy | Actors: Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Stephen Collins, Elizabeth Berkley, Marcia Gay Harden, Bronson Pinchot, Jennifer Dundas, Eileen Heckart, Philip Bosco

The concept is quite cliché, women are dumped by their men for a younger one. Three girlfriends, played by Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, meet again after years of not seeing each other at the funeral of their fourth girlfriend. Not too original, though. The feelings of revenge towards their men that arise from this are also to be expected, but that they actually do something about it is new. They take their men back, and how. The tagline Don’t get mad. Get everything fits particularly well.

After the difficult start and introduction of the three friends, the rest of the film really consists of carrying out their revenge plans. Other people are called in and slowly but surely their ex-husbands have to accept it one by one. The revenge actions themselves are nice, but it just takes too long. This is not due to the three actresses; in fact it is they who make the film bearable.

Bette Midler as Brenda Cushman is good. Her character has fun one-liners that bring a smile to the viewer. Furthermore, Midler is particularly good at her physical jokes. Goldie Hawn as Elise Elliot comes across as hysterical at times, but that’s her character. She plays her part with conviction, but what is especially striking is the work that has been done on her face, lips have never been sprayed so clearly. Diane Keaton as Annie Paradis is the least noticeable among the other two divas. She plays a timid woman who is very insecure and seems incapable of getting angry, a gray mouse with no sense of humor. Of the three main characters, her character is the one that develops the most throughout the film. Because of her natural, almost under-acting, Keaton is the one who stands out the most. In a positive way.

Nice supporting roles are reserved for the lesser known Sarah Jessica Parker (‘Sex and the City’) and Elizabeth Berkley (‘Saved by the Bell’). Both of them are fantastic at portraying two incredibly stupid, blond, young women who fall for (the money from) the ex-men-with-midlife crisis.

Not a special film and the only thing that really sticks is the closing song “You don’t own me”. Too bad you have to wait the whole movie for such a moment. All in all, ‘The First Wives Club’ is more of a satire with some comic notes here and there. Man-unfriendly. Nice to watch in itself… if you just got dumped.