Calendar Girls (2003)

“You’re nude in The Telegraph, dear. Can you pass the bacon?”

Sue’s Rating: I shall never be able to look pastry in the face again.

Sue’s Review: Based on a true story (and it’s so worth watching the extra features on the DVD), Calendar Girls is a charming British film about… uhm… well… look, don’t get all sqeamish on me now, okay? I mean, I know most of you guys like horror and violence and spouting blood and really naughty words and all that stuff. Even in movies. But you can handle this. I promise. Be strong. For me.

Okay, here we go.

Calendar Girls is a charming British film about a group of small town, advanced middle-aged ladies belonging to the local chapter of the Women’s Institute Organization (WI) who decide to create and sell a calendar to raise money for the cancer ward of their local hospital. Well that’s not so bad, you say. What sort of calendar? Views of picturesque churches? Scenic cows? Small fluffy infant mammals? No, I say to you. These ladies, in the fullest possible bloom of their lives before compost, pose nude. Not naked, mind you. Nude. Naked is smut. Nude is art.

They’re not brazen hussies, nor are they retirees from the trade of negotiable affection. They’re homemakers and shopkeepers, moms and wives. Most of them are as squicked about the idea of taking it all off as many of you undoubtedly are at the thought of them… well, taking it all off. They’re also realistic enough to believe that just the novelty of the idea should sell enough calendars to raise the cash for a new sofa for the cancer ward’s waiting room. It’s also a chance for them demonstrate (beyond a shadow of any doubt!) their support and friendship for one of their own who has recently and tragically had to spend a great deal of time on the old uncomfortable couch that the waiting room currently offers.

It’s actually very noble, insofar as airing out one’s personal… private… doodads can be noble.

Maybe that’s what I like the most about Calendar Girls. Not the doodads of course, but the friendships. Aside from Kyle, I don’t know if I have any friends who would take it all off for a fund-raiser in my behalf. (Like Kyle needs an excuse anyway?) But I do have friends who have seen me through some pretty awful moments and episodes for no better reason than that they are my friends. These are the people in my life who might not commit the crime, but would certainly help me dispose of the body. Uhm, metaphorically speaking, of course.

In return, maybe I wouldn’t bare all, but I bet I’d… well, I’d go to a Barry Manilow concert. That’s what I’d do. That’s the sort of person I am. I’d… I’d even sing along very quietly to Copacabana. I would! That’s what true friendship is all about.

In any case, the proposed project runs into a tremendous amount of resistance from the local WI leader, a few dubious relatives and… well, when you get right down to it, from the subjects themselves. I mean, it’s all great talking about it and planning backdrops, but when it’s time for the bathrobe to hit the linoleum… well dang! It’s a priceless and funny and wonderful process because there are few folks out there (excepting the aforementioned Kyle) who can’t cringe and cower right along with our heroines at the situation they’ve gotten themselves into.

In fact, since the story is lifted (with admitted plot liberties) from a real event, it’s almost impossible not to sympathize with, relate to, and cheer for the characters involved.

Better yet, even though I’d classify this as a story that appeals more to those of the female persuasion, there has not been one documented case of a human male having to tear his own eyeballs out during a viewing of this movie. Not one!

Calendar Girls is proof positive that a movie can be brilliant and enjoyable without having a big budget, rampant violence, space battles or serial-nookie. It’s refreshing to see that the feat is still possible. It’s well worth watching!

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