Calendar Girls Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
What is the difference between pornography and art? For Annie Clarke (Julie Walters) the answer is easy: an artist.
The middle-aged Yorkshire woman stayed at the side of her husband John (John Alderton) when he was diagnosed with leukemia. But after modern medicine failed to help him conquer the merciless monster, Annie and her best friend Chris Harper (Helen Mirren) decided to fight back.
Looking for a way to raise money to improve care at the local hospital, and perhaps even earn a bit for cancer research, the two stumble upon an idea while attending their community Women’s Institute meeting (the WI organization was stared in the early 1900’s, and is best known for its encouragement of domestic arts). As their chapter begins to debate putting images of wild flowers or ivy-covered churches on their annual fundraising calendar, the unorthodox Chris comes up with an equally unorthodox alternative theme.
What if they put together a girly calendar, starring themselves holding strategically positioned props? Any proceeds would go directly to their charity, of course. Selling the notion to several of their fellow members with such rationalizations as: ?Think of it as nude, not naked,? the women begin experimenting with the idea at home. However their efforts amount to nothing more than a waste of film and some embarrassing moments when Chris’s teen-aged son (John—Paul MacLeod) walks in on their photo-shoot. That’s when Annie decides to find an artist.
Remembering the former photography student who worked as an orderly in the hospital during John’s final days, the widow recruits Lawrence (Philip Glenister). Although nervous about taking pictures of unclothed women as old or older than his own mother, the young man finally agrees. After some generous winebibbing for courage, the eleven chums (the twelfth month will feature the entire group) proceed to do something naughty for a nice cause.
Starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release December 18, 2003. Updated April 6, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Calendar Girls rated PG-13? Calendar Girls is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for nudity, some language and drug-related material
Certainly titillating publications are not a unique idea, however contrasting the conservative WI pursuits of cooking and knitting with some liberal-minded nudity, does prove to be a stroke of genius. Their calendar not only becomes a best seller, but also attracts masses of media who descend on their tiny village. Overnight the humble housewives turn into celebrities, giving interviews and even accepting an invitation to Hollywood.
But their success doesnt come without a price. Ms. Januarys son is so embarrassed by her grandstanding that he turns to drugs (although hes apparently comfortable looking at the pictures of naked young women in the pornographic magazine he hides under his bed). The husband of another of the middle-aged models uses her participation to justify his infidelity. And the sweet taste of fame threatens to sour some long-term relationships.
This film is brilliantly executed with strong acting and a witty charm that conveys both comedy and sensitivity. It also sports abundant mild profanities, some crude anatomical terms, a few brief flashes of nudity and a cheeky attitude as the characters shrug off sexual prudishness. While it champions the empowerment of these fifty-plus-aged ladies to steal the title of sex symbol from the reigning stereotype of the big-busted twenty-year-old, it still concludes with the old clich0xE9: sex sells.
The idea women can only gain attention and recognition by taking off their clothes is further underscored in a comment made during their interview with Jay Leno, when he quips, ?I support anything that will encourage more women to get naked.?
Because it is based on a true story, the premise of the movie Calendar Girls isnt open to debate. To date, the Alternative WI Calendar has made a half million pounds, and they have also promised the profits from this project to the Leukemia Research Fund. But how you feel about this film, and whether or not the ends justify the means will depend largely on how you answer the question: What is the difference between pornography and art?
Page last updated April 6, 2009
Calendar Girls Parents' Guide
In the film, John says, ? The flowers of Yorkshire are like women. Every stage is more beautiful, with the last being the most glorious.? How do you feel about aging and its effect on beauty?
Annie and Chris feel completely clean about their participation in the WI Calendar, but when they are asked to bare all for a soap commercial, Annie says she feels dirty. Why? Was there any difference between the two activities?
The most recent home video release of Calendar Girls movie is May 3, 2004. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Another example of being motivated by a tragedy is found in the movie Lorenzos Oil. Also based on a true story, Augusto and Michaela Odone made a significant contribution to adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) research after their only child was diagnosed with this rare and terminal disease. Although the stories are fictional, the Free Willy series raised awareness for the plight of a killer whale being kept in captivity.
The official site of the Rylstone & Districts Alternative WI Calendar is: www.daelnet.net/rylstonewi.
For more information about the real calendar girls, check out this article: www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,178359,00.html.