The Women Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Apparently banking on the success of such estrogen-laden films as Sex and the City and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Women (a remake of a 1939 movie) features a cast made up entirely of females. The lack of a single male on screen only emphasizes the story’s theme that men, like a great purse or fabulous scarf, are a mere accessory.
The script focuses on four female friends living in the hub of New York. While getting her nails done, Sylvia Fowler (Annette Bening), a high-powered magazine editor, unwittingly discovers her best friend’s husband is fooling around with a sales clerk (Eva Mendes) at the perfume desk. The juicy tidbit comes from an excessively chatty manicurist (Debi Mazer) who believes her job description includes entertaining her clients with the latest gossip. Torn over whether or not to tell Mary (Meg Ryan), Sylvia eventually confides in Edie (Debra Messing), a burgeoning, expectant mother who already has a growing brood at home. They also let their lesbian pal, Alex (Jada Pinkett Smith) in on the news.
Yet, unbeknownst to them, Mary has already found out about her husband’s infidelities. Confused over what to do, she seeks her mother’s (Candice Bergen) advice. But coming to terms with her situation isn’t easy. Luckily, while Mary’s friends occasionally prove to be more of a hindrance than help, her housekeeper (Cloris Leachman) is a voice of reason—and one of the truly enjoyable characters in the film.
Only after Mary engages in a prolonged marijuana sharing experience with another recovering divorcee (Bette Midler) does she make a plan to get on with her life. Too bad it takes drugs to clear her head and a philandering mate to set her on the path to self-fulfillment.
However, if this film is supposed to inspire women of a certain age (namely mine) about the benefits of female empowerment, it falls painfully short. Prior to her break-up, Mary’s involvement in community events, volunteering and childrearing are all depicted as minimally important and it seems she’s only fulfilled after giving up those activities to “find herself”. Meanwhile, although Sylvia’s career appears to be headed in the right direction, it doesn’t take long to discover she ultimately has to have her ideas okayed by a man. On the other hand, Edie’s life is a raucous rat race of screaming children, crude pregnancy jokes, labor pains and an absentee husband. And Alex, who chooses to shack up with another woman to avoid all the problems of dealing with men, is so underdeveloped that she and her petulant partner (Natasha Alam) are practically useless in the storyline. Crass sexual jokes, a profusion of profanities and highly judgmental comments about what others are wearing make these women seem superficial rather than strong and sensible.
While the script purports that men are of little use in a woman’s world, the reality is that these girls don’t do an amazing job of running their little spot on the planet either. But without any men showing up on screen, these girls have no one but themselves to blame for their problems.Starring Candice Bergen, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes.. Theatrical release September 11, 2008. Updated November 13, 2014
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Women rated PG-13? The Women is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sex-related material, language, some drug use and brief smoking.
The script for this film is packed with profanities, crude sexual comments and other vulgarities, along with negative religious and homosexual remarks. A preteen discovers her mother’s birth control device, dresses provocatively, and admits to smoking. She also has a frank discussion with an older woman about sexual activity. The girl later burns tampons as a way to protest becoming a woman. Women are shown kissing and cuddling in a lesbian restaurant. A woman goes through labor and gives birth to a baby. Two characters smoke marijuana during a prolonged scene of drug use. Characters also drink and smoke on several occasions. A woman openly mocks the wife of her lover.
Page last updated November 13, 2014
More parents' guide for The Women after the break...
The Women Parents' Guide
Although there are no men in this film, what unseen male characters are still portrayed and what impact do they have on the women in this story? Why do you think the moviemakers chose not to include any men? Without being able to make our own assessment of Mary’s husband, whose opinion are we forced to accept?
What positive things do Mary’s friends do to support her? What things are more of a hindrance for her? How can a person best help or encourage a friend during difficult times?
What do you think Mary’s mother means when she says there is nothing like a “heavy does of mistress to make a man miss his wife”?
What does this film say about making mistakes? Do you believe betrayal is a part of all relationships? What does Mary learn about forgiveness? What other characters practice letting go of hurt and injury?
The most recent home video release of The Women movie is December 22, 2008. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: The Women
Release Date: 23 December 2008
Releasing to DVD and Blu-ray, The Women invite fans to look at The Legacy (a documentary about the 1936 stage play of The Women that became the classic 1939 movie, and this 2008 remake), and to see The Women Behind the Women (as the cast and crew explore female empowerment, body image and self-esteem for girls).
Related home video titles:
Five women—and one lone man—organize a book group as a way to distract a friend from the details of her messy divorce in The Jane Austen Book Club. A man who has grown complacent in his marriage has his relationship revitalized when he takes up ballroom lessons in Shall We Dance.