Calendar Girls [2003]

In the sensible yet elegant hands of actresses Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, Calendar Girls walks a fine line between sappiness and snickering and ends up both wonderfully funny and gently touching. When her best friend Annie (Walters, Billy Elliot) loses her husband, Chris (Mirren, Prime Suspect, Gosford Park) cooks up a scheme to memorialize him: They and their friends--all fiftysomething women--will make a nude calendar to raise money for the hospital where he died. The calendar becomes hugely popular, but the success may drive a wedge between the two women's friendship. Based on an actual event, Calendar Girls carefully balances the stories of several women as it follows the calendar's media explosion, becoming a surprisingly moving fable of loss, determination, and the perils of fame. And let's face it--Helen Mirren is one of the wittiest and sexiest women alive, clothes on or not. --Bret Fetzer

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