The Women – Blu-ray Review

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Remakes of popular films are really tricky to pull off. In fact, you could probably count the number of successful modern remakes of classic films on one hand, and maybe not even need one or two fingers. They usually get made by people who obviously love the original work, but also think they can do it better. But as the old adage goes, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” The latest film to get a remake was The Women, originally a much-loved 1939 film that was based on a much-loved stage play of the same name. Would it actually join the rare remake success status or would it just be another remake that probably shouldn’t have ever been made?

In The Women, gossip concerning her husband’s infidelity leads to Mary’s (Meg Ryan) doorstep, she panics, unable to process this violation of trust during a period of time where she also loses her job and the admiration of her teen daughter. Coming to the rescue are her friends, fashion magazine editor Sylvia (Annette Bening), full-time mom Edith (Debra Messing), and full-time lesbian Miriam (Jada Pinkett Smith), not to mention further support from housekeeper Maggie (Cloris Leachman) and mother Catherine (Candice Bergen). While struggling with their own disappointments in life, the ladies team up to help Mary through this difficult time, turning their venom on Crystal (Eva Mendes, vamping it up), the formidable mistress who won’t back down from the affair.

This film is less of a remake of the 1939 film and more “just inspired by” the 1939 film. At times, this version of The Women feels like Sex and the City with all the women being 10 or 20 years older. The director/writer, Diane English, is best known for being the creator of the hit TV series Murphy Brown. It seemed like a good choice, since she has experience with working with women and knows that mindset fairly well. But unfortunately it seems like English made this film with her TV brain as opposed to her film brain. That’s to say that this film feels very much like a sitcom that gets cancelled quickly and is just rushes to an ending. Not to mention the fact that every cliche common to female bonding films is in this film.

Thankfully, a strong cast can almost always make a poorly written film at least watchable. The version of The Women has an all-star lineup of actresses. What is unique about this film is that there is not a single man that appears on screen. So those women looking for eye candy need to look elsewhere. What you will find in this film, though, is strong performances from the all-female cast from top to bottom. Probably the most fascinating thing to witness on screen, though, is Meg Ryan’s facelift.

Fans of any of the main cast will surely enjoy this version of The Women despite all of its flaws, and there are many. It’s less satrical and funny than the original film. It also lacks depth and sticks mainly to cliched drama and antics. This is a “chick flick remake” that strays too far off from the original material and instead opts to stick extremely close to the “chick flick” formula. Sex and the City and standard romantic comedy fans will probably be entertained by The Women, but everyone else should be looking the other way.

The video is presented in 1080p VC-1 at the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. The video transfer here is good, but nothing spectactular. In fact, it’s barely better than the standard DVD version of this film. No major problems, though.

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. Like the video, the audio is pretty average for a Blu-ray DVD. No major problems here either, but nothing out-of-this-world.

Blu-Ray Exclusives

There are no blu-ray exclusives for this film.

Found on Standard Edition As Well…

“The Women: The Legacy” Featurette
This runs 18 minutes and it gives a little background and history on the play, original film version, as well as Diane English’s efforts to get this version greenlit. Fairly interesting stuff.

“The Women Behind The Women” Featurette
This runs 10 minutes and it’s a mixture of on-set interviews with supposedly relevant information from various women’s publications, a tie-in to Bening’s character. It is led by 16-year-old junior journalist, Cammy Nelson. She goes around the set to interview cast and crew members. A little too preachy.

Deleted Scenes
There are 2 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the movie, and they total 6 minutes. Nothing must-see here.

This version of The Women will entertain romantic comedy fans. But it brings nothing new to the genre. Fans of the original 1939 film will probably not like this film as much, since the original is 10 times better than this version. So it’s only a recommended rental for fans of this type of film, and fans of the actresses involved. Not really worth buying, though.

As for the difference between this Blu-ray version and the standard definition version, there is not any really. The audio and video quality on this Blu-ray disc is not enough of an improvement to recommend this version over the standard disc version. There are also no extras exclusive to this Blu-ray DVD, so if you MUST rent or buy this film, save some money and stick with the standard version.


New Line Home Entertainment presents The Women. Directed and Written by Diane English. Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Clors Leachman, Debi Mazar, India Ennenga, Joanna Gleason, and Carrie Fisher. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on BD: December 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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