The First Wives Club (PG)

Directed by Hugh Wilson
Starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton

This is the story of three ex-, or soon to be ex-wives, traded in for younger models by their husbands. The three ladies are spurred to action after meeting at the funeral of an old friend who was once one of their college friends. This girl, well played as an adult by the wonderful Stockard Channing was once a close pal, and the three decide to take some action over the injustices they feel have been done to them.

This promising premise features three excellent actresses who are all in their late forties/early fifties. All three ladies are excellent as ageing actress, frumpish housewife, and gullible doormat. We are encouraged to cheer as they begin to try and the right those wrongs done to them. Midler gets back at hubby Dan Hedaya through his crooked books, Keaton takes a stake in her ex-husbands business, while Hawn's ex is trying to claim alimony from her despite his affluent life style.
What starts as a biting comedy about the serious issue of middle aged women dumped by middle aged men going through mid life crises sadly soon degenerates into cheap attempts at quick laughs. In these caring, sharing 90s, the women's vitriol is watered down to getting the cheating men to contribute to a shelter for abandoned wives. No blood is spilled at all! Indeed the women are singing and dancing by the end in their smart white suits.
Still, there are some witty one liners, and good performances from the three leads, ably supported by Hedaya, the magnificent Maggie Smith. brought in as THE class guru, although I did want to see more of Stockard Channing, sadly exiting early.

This film was a big hit in the USA, no doubt, the women ticket buyers striking back! Amusing and fun, but I don't think it really has that much to say about the plight of abandoned wives in the 90s. 6/10

November 1996

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