Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3 Movies from 20 years ago that Still Hold Up

Here are 3 women-based comedy/dramas from 1991-2 that I watched over the holiday break on late-late night cable. These movies were well cast, chockfull of important women issues, and fully (I swear!) worth re-watching.

A real "Rockford Peach"
A League of Their Own (1992) starring Lori Petty, Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna. Directed by Penny Marshall.

Taglines: "There's no crying in baseball!" and "A women's place is on home, first, second, and third."

Madonna was at her apex of super-stardom here, yet cast as a co-star. Thats why all the posters show her bigger than Tom Hanks, or sometimes just her with a baseball bat. This is the fictionalized story of the real Rockford Peaches, one of the All-American Girls Pro Baseball Leagues (1943-1954) that existed while men were off fighting the war. Tom Hanks is the consistently hungover coach who learns to curb his drinking for the sake of the women's team and finds a friend in the do-gooder Dottie, the team catcher (Geena Davis). His spitting physical comedy here is at its best and quite possibly the last really funny role he's played. The women play ball with fury all the while knowing that inevitably the men will be back and Women's Baseball will sadly soon come to an end. There's a real Girls-Rock-Camp feel to the characters - all the women work their way into a boy's club, all are dedicated, hard hitters, and most are loud yet vulnerable. The ending is a bit of a mixed bag bummer (looking back when they're older in 1988) but in all its silly, fun, retro, and totally inspirational.

Thelma and Louise (1991) starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Brad Pitt. Directed by Ridley Scott.

Tagline: "Someone said get a life... so they did."

Don't let The Simpson's parodies of this or the general saturation of "2 women in a Thunderbird convertible on a nihilistic road-trip" stop you from watching this movie again. Try to watch it as if you've never seen it before. When this movie came out, we thought women's roles in cinema were going to change forever, that this would clearly rewrite women's characters in to multi-dimensional rebels and leading roles ...but its easy to see that it didn't change as much or as often as we thought. Geena Davis stars again, this time as a housewife who barely escapes a violent act, and learns to live for the first time as a fearless, gun holding yet politely feminine outlaw (manners count!). Susan Sarandon, always amazing, is scared, trapped, fighting, and beautiful all at the same MOMENT. Harvey Keitel is not at his best, but then again, this isn't his most ambitious role. Brad Pitt always plays a perfect dumb blonde with humor. Raw, enlightening, scary, ultra modern.

Death Becomes Her (1992) starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Tagline: "Some people will go to any lengths to stay looking young."

This story of 2 L.A. women obsessed with looking young is just as poignant today, if not MORE, then ever. Meryl Streep plays a character who has consistently stolen Goldie Hawn's men since they were kids, then goes on to steal her husband (the bumbling DUD of a man Bruce Willis). And c'mon, Meryl Streep can do no wrong, she is always fabulous, so watch it for that alone. This is some serious silliness and some seriously early CGI...but it works. Full on comedy/90's slapstick. The problem is this: we laugh at these women who will do anything to hang on to firm butts, wonder-bra chests, and perfect skin.. but, because of Isabella Rossellini's insatiable sexiness as the head mistress of anti-aging, who can blame them for wanting it? I might want the youth-serum too if she's selling it. In a nut-shell its funny, light, smart, & cringeworthy.

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