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Calendar Girls

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Calendar Girls

Starring: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters
Director: Nigel Cole
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: December 2003
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Penelope Wilton, Philip Glenister, Jay Leno, Annette Crosbie, John Alderton, Angus Barnett, Linda Bassett, George Costigan, Annette Crosbie

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Inspired by the true story of a group of enterprising middle-aged women who bared their bods for charity and became international celebrities, "Calendar Girls" is a rambunctious romp.

In Knapely, a small, fictional Yorkshire town in northeast England, lifelong friends Chris Harper (Helen Mirren) and Annie Clark (Julie Walters) faithfully attend the deadly dull weekly meetings of the WI (Women's Institute), a venerable institution that encourages skills like jam-making, baking, knitting and flower pressing. Then when Annie's husband dies of cancer, Chris comes up with a novel idea for the WI to raise money to buy a comfortable sofa for the hospital that cared for him: a nude calendar. While risqu‚ concept shocks the proudly prim and proper ladies, Annie reminds them of her late husband's words, "The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire - the last phase is the most glorious." Soon they're disarmingly disrobing for an embarrassed yet inventive photographer. And the calendar's success is so resounding that their loyalties are tested by the glare of the spotlight and a glitzy all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood.

Reminiscent of "The Full Monty," the script by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth is even better, since - beyond the humor of the situation - the modest women's lives are forever changed by their cheeky choices. And director Nigel Cole ("Saving Grace") has assembled top-notch British actresses, casting against type, with Helen Mirren ("Gosford Park") in the comic, fun-loving role, juxtaposed to the more serious reticence of Julie Walters ("Billy Eliot"). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Calendar Girls" is an outrageous, uplifting 8. It's fresh, funny and moving - so warm and good-natured that you'd have to be a Scrooge to resist it.

Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger

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