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Calendar Girls  (2003)


Starring: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton

Director: Nigel Cole

Rating: PG-13

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 4, 2004
Review posted: May 3, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Gregory L. Amato


ďYou're nude in The Telegraph, dear. [Pause] Can you pass the bacon?Ē -Jessieís husband Richard




Several women involved with their local Womenís Institute in the small town of Knapely, England decide to experiment with their annual calendar in order to raise more money for charity. Despite being well past their physical primes (all are middle-aged), the women dare to pose nude. Based on a true story.




A comment from Access Hollywood on the front of the DVD case says "The Full Monty . . . Female Style!" Thankfully the film isnít the hackneyed "tailor-made to your demographic" copy that such a comment might suggest.


Yes, The Full Monty is about a group of men middle-aged who bravely decide to do a full striptease. Both movies also have groups of people led by a single energetic, charismatic lead (Robert Carlyle as Gaz in The Full Monty and Helen Mirren as Chris in Calendar Girls). Calendar Girls is therefore very similar in concept, but the film holds its own by not being a copy.


Calendar Girls gives a deeper look into the home lives of the women who decide to pose nude and the implications of their success, taking the film in a direction that is completely its own. How will their husbands take it? Their sons? Posing nude for charity becomes courting the media for exposure becomes posing nude for commercials which will finance more calendars, etc. As Chris continues to lead the way, Annie (Julie Walters) wonders if the women have strayed from their path, and whether all attention theyíre getting from the media is good.


A few laughs lighten the mood, but the funniest parts concern the girlsí apprehensive photographer, Lawrence (Philip Glenister). No one is too keen on posing nude with a male photographer present, an opinion voiced by several of the girls. In one scene, they discuss alternatives and how to get around the "male" problem while Lawrence sits unacknowledged behind them, only to have disappeared when they finally turn around to address him.


Calendar Girls is its own film, at times witty and poignant, but itís not of the same caliber as The Full Monty. How much viewers enjoy the film will probably be an exact correlation to how enjoyable the premise sounds.




Buena Vista presents Calendar Girls in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video is better than average, with little grain but a few noticeable halos. Otherwise I didnít notice any bothersome artifacts.




Buena Vista presents Calendar Girls in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. A French track is also available, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialog is occasionally hard to understand, but most of the time itís fine.




Other than the handful of previews included on the disc, the Calendar Girls DVD includes three featurettes. The Naked Truth (15:12) is a documentary about the real "Calendar Girls" told by several of the women who posed. Original photographs and footage show how closely the film resembles the real happenings it portrays.


Creating the Calendar (6:22) is about the creation of the filmís calendar. Nude scenes and how they were approached get commentary from the actresses, director Nigel Cole, and photographer Jaap Buitendijk.


A few deleted scenes are included, though none are particularly noteworthy unless you want to see more of the band Anthrax hanging out (and dancing) with the women. The scene with Chrisí husband Rod (CiarŠn Hinds) and their son Jem (John-Paul Macleod) is the only one that might have added anything.




If The Full Monty with women sounds appealing, great. Based on a true story or not, Calendar Girls still has that air of familiarity, and isnít quite as humorous or engaging. That said, the film is not a rip-off of The Full Monty, and in fact aspects of Calendar Girls are more complicated and look at the same general premise (older/unattractive people getting naked) in different ways. Few extras donít make this a compelling disc to have to buy, though they are worth watching. Borderline rent/buy.




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