With the release of its first trailer, the Brooke Shields-led “getting older” comedy The Hot Flashes is reminiscent of a few recent comedies, both of which fall wildly to either end of the quality spectrum. On one side it’s a little like Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups film (and its forthcoming sequel), ruminating on the fact that getting older is funny. On the other hand, it’s hard not to think a bit of Bridesmaids, because there’s plenty of women saying and doing somewhat raunchy things.
To which side does The Hot Flashes lean most, the trailer doesn’t seem to want to say. My guess is that it’s not going to end well, especially considering the following observations.
First, the trailer:
Now, some thoughts:
1. Is menopause really funny enough to carry an entire film? I’m not trying to get in the way of any sort of strong female-led comedy, trust me. Bridesmaids is among my favorite comedies of the past several years. But there’s something odd about the notion that the dominant theme of this film is about women going through what I’m told is a not-at-all-fun part of their lives. It’s the equivalent of making an Adam Sandler movie about heart disease or prostate cancer.
2. It’s the unofficial Rita from Bridesmaids spin-off. They’ve just replaced Wendi McLendon-Covey with Virginia Madsen. I swear I’ve seen that “sausage” joke somewhere else before. Note: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Finding a sausage joke to oppose my grandfather’s “young people today don’t want to buy the cow because they can get the milk for free” joke seems appropriate.
3. Brooke Shields is doing some Kevin Costner-esque accent work. Just as someone born in New York is wont to do, Ms. Shields is playing this role with an oddly Southern twang that seems to come and go as the trailer (heaven forbid the movie) moves along. That’s not a good sign.
4. I bet they lose on the court, but win in their hearts. Because their coach is a little person and a felon. That’s funny, right?
5. What the hell is on Daryl Hannah’s head? Based on my acute observation skills, I’m going to say that this is set in Texas. There are a number of Texas-related things (including, but not limited to the aforementioned accents). So I get the cowgirl hat that Daryl Hannah is sporting. What I do not quite get is the long, luscious red hair and the “I earned these bangs in prison” look. Ok yeah, that’s probably a little too Texas, in fact.
6. It’s directed by Susan Seidelman. Who has not traditionally been the maker of completely awful movies. In fact, she’s had a long-standing and important role in the prominence of women in film, particular that of successful female directors. She’s the same person that gave us Desperately Seeking Susan, She-Devil and the pilot of Sex and the City. This fits into her filmography, sure (especially when you look at a film like Boynton Beach Club, about sexuality at an advanced age), but it also seems very slight compared to her previous works.
Overall, this trailer seems like low-hanging fruit. In fact, upon first viewing I wasn’t entirely convinced that I wasn’t watching some sort of parody trailer. I was wrong, it’s a real movie. And I’m sure that it’s cut into a traditional “Rise of the Phoenix” formula with a dash of “love yourself, because you can defeat whatever life throws at you” heavy-handedness. The fact remains that it’s an odd collection of otherwise great actresses making a movie that looks like it was written by a marketing intern at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation disguised as a raunchy comedy. As many a Diane Keaton film has taught us in the past, there’s plenty of room for comedies about the challenges of aging, I’m just not sure playing basketball against teenagers and trying to ape other, funnier raunch-coms is the way to go.
It’s in theaters July 12, at which point we’ll discover whether my observations are that of a terrible person, or just someone who thinks we can do better than this.