The Shitty Miracle of “The Women.”

I recently read a fun article at The A.V. Club called “Shitty Miracles,” which refers to projects so stunningly bad one wonders how they were ever greenlighted. The staff of A.V. Club seemed to have so much fun recalling their “favorite” shitty miracles, I thought I’d give it a go myself.

Since “The Room” was mentioned in the Q&A I decided not to discuss it here. Besides, “The Room” is not shitty. It is unbelievably wonderful, a transcendent movie-going experience.  If you looked up the phrase “so bad it’s good” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of Tommy Wiseau winking impishly.

How I felt when I watched the remake of "The Women"

How I felt when I watched the remake of “The Women”

So I’m stuck picking another, erm, winner. And that has to be the 2008 remake of the 1939 classic, “The Women.” Now, the original “Women” is one of my favorite, if not my straight-up favorite film of all time. It is a fast-paced, fast-talking, funny, snarky, silly, feminist (in its own twisted, antiquated way) film about an extremely privileged woman who’s dealing with her beloved husband’s infidelity and her circle of friends’ reaction to her turmoil.

If the original “Women” was sparkly, chilled champagne, the remake is a bottle of Peach Riunite that was left in the sun. It has no bubble, no verve and might make you throw up.

Low Points:

  • The casting. It was terrible all-around, but special mention must go to the casting director who’s answer to “Get me a smart, snarky, jaded, single writer” was “I know–Jada Pinkett-Smith!” Not Aisha Tyler. Not Janeane Garafolo. Not Margaret Cho. Jada fucking Pinkett. What’s worse, was that the character was inexplicably made into a lesbian apparently so she could stand around being lesbian and saying lesbianish things like “Hey, that woman who’s banging your husband sure is hot.” I do give the writers credit for not having her wax poetic about trips to the Home Depot, but this movie is such a huge mish-mash of moronic non-sequitors, they probably had to stop somewhere.
  • At one point the twiggy tween daughter  (who worries about being fat) talks about her father finding her mother’s “coming into her own” sexy. Daughters talking about their mother’s being sexy is dead creepy. Full stop.
  • At not one, but two, points in the film, the extraordinarily annoying Sylvia character has over-earnest, goofy, feminist primer sessions with the possibly-more-annoying tween. Feminism is awesome. Talking to young girls about feminism is also awesome. Doing it in a clunky, dated, “where the hell did that come from?” way is not awesome. Oh, and the 1990’s called and it wants its feminist issues back. PLUS, I’m a liberal, not a wingnut. I don’t need my films to be rife with smarmy, obvious propaganda that confirms my worldview.
  • The original film nods earnestly–albeit quickly–to the main character’s privilege. And somehow the the time period of the film makes the first world problems of these women seem less irritating. Not so for the remake. Somehow the idea of these thoroughly unappealing women pondering love and loss and how hard it it is for a tough-talking rich woman to get by in the magazine business kind of makes me want to vomit. I simply don’t care. Honestly, the movie would have been better if they–along with their first world problems– had all click-clacked their way in their Manolos–or Jimmy Choos or whatever the hell idiots wear these days– into the middle of the street and been run over by trucks. Also, “Sex and the City” wants its…everything… back. (Although, to be fair, SATC was occasionally funny and goodness knows the “Women” remake didn’t steal that from the show.)

I don’t know how the film managed take everything that was good about the original film–its crisp dialogue, its amazing cast, its catty humor– and turn it on its head. So instead of a soapy treat about women and their relationships, you get the treat of watching a horribly mis-cast, humorless pile of shit with leaden dialogue and feminist propaganda disguised as a meandering plot.

Feminism is great. I am proudly and rabidly feminist. The most feminist aspect of “The Women” is it that features no men. If you don’t understand the visual and psychological impact of that, you have no business remaking the film.



24 thoughts on “The Shitty Miracle of “The Women.”

  1. Through the miracle of advanced CGI, George Lucas was able to bury his legacy in a shallow grave with a bag of quicklime.

    I ain’t’nt gonna be one of teh fanboyz who say he ruined their childhood (if so, ummm, dude, f’reals?), but I will say he should be buried with a bag of salted dicks.

  2. Aisha Tyler?

    Hey, I hope you caught the latest Archer (speaking of Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman, aka Louise and Gene Belcher).

    But yeah, nothing ruins the rep of “weepers” like remaking one of the best from the Studio Era so badly.

    At times the 2008 “The Women” makes “Sex and the City” look like “My Man Godfrey”.

    (If you can stand random suggestions, recommended reading for how Hollywood treated the Depression in romantic movie is available in The Runaway Bride by Elizabeth Kendall.)

    • I love Aisha Tyler. I think she would have been great in the role.

      Thank you very much for the book recommendation! I am always open to any recommendation, be it a song or movie or whatever. Can’t promise I’ll get to it…but I certainly try.

  3. Feminism is great. I am proudly and rabidly feminist. The most feminist aspect of “The Women” is it that features no men. If you don’t understand the visual and psychological impact of that, you have no business remaking the film.

    Does the remake really involve feminism, or does it pay lip-service to the straw feminism that seems so in vogue in today’s dudebro-regressive pop culture?

    • I think Diane English was sincere in trying to give the movie a feminist bent. She just misunderstood the first film and took on a project and an agenda she just never should have tackled.

      It’s like she said, “Hey, ‘The Women’ is awesome. Let me make it feminist.” I’m open to the idea that the first one is not feminist. What I’m less open to is the idea that it needed to be.

      • I don’t know if it’s because now we have “30 Rock”, but the more reruns of “Murphy Brown” I see, the more holes there are in its tone. And it often seems to break the cardinal rule of stories in which there’s more “telling” than “showing”.

        Remember, “Murphy Brown” was a show in which white liberals literally, on more than one instance, stood around talking about white liberal guilt. And launched potshot jabs at the “Clinton transition team”.

        That’s the thing I could get from anyone not making a “liberal” TV fiction, isn’t it?

        Maybe there was a behind-the-scenes I have no idea about. But given that history, I don’t know how badly a feminist like you wants Diane English to put “Make It Feminist” on the first page of a project she’s doing.

  4. I dunno if it’s a shitty miracle, but my all-time “so bad it’s good” movie is Hawk the Slayer. It actually has a couple of moments of brilliance (the scene where the hunchback slave-trader gets what’s coming to him is great), but it’s pretty damn bad, and the wierd penny-whistle tune that plays whenever “Hawk” comes on the scene is hilarious.

    Bad as it is, I’d rather watch it than Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies.

  5. Just to refresh myself, I went to IMDB’s page for the 2008 “The Women”.

    Under “people who liked this also liked”, the first thing that pops up is “Big Daddy”.

    Nuf ced.

  6. It either holds my attention or doesn’t, & I’d really rather watch a train-wreck than some well-turned-out piece of Oscar™©-bait. So petty distinctions like “good” or “bad” don’t exist for me.

  7. Dr. Kenneth VacuumSlayer Noisewater, It looks like some folks in the A.V. Club are using a “so bad it’s good” definition for a “shitty miracle,” but I follow ya. (I remember The Women remake getting panned when it came out for a few of the reasons you mentioned.) And oh, how “so bad it’s good” applies to The Room. I recently saw it in a group outing at a midnight screening here in LA. (Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero did a Q&A; Sestero has a great sense of humor about the whole thing, while Wiseau is incoherent and delusional, no surprise.) “The Citizen Kane of bad movies” fits. The number of WTF decisions per minute is absolutely stunning, and makes the film strangely compelling. One of my favorite descriptions is that “it’s as if a deer made a movie about human interaction, unable to comprehend what it is to be a human being.” It’s basically a vanity project made by a guy who can’t act, direct or write. If you haven’t seen ’em yet, check out the videos of Downfall Hitler sees The Room and best of Rifftrax on The Room. It really is both a fascinating movie and a cautionary tale.

    • Yeah, it looked as though the AV folks were talking about both bad and “so bad” films, and I decided to go the “just horribly horribly not enjoyably bad bad” route.

      Geez, you saw one of those screenings? I’m really jealous.

  8. As I said over at the other place, Zardoz. And welcome back to blogging, even if you were all secretive and such about your return.

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