First Wives Club [1996]

Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton prove that revenge is a dish best served cold. Former college buddies, they reunite at the funeral of a dear friend who took a swan dive onto Fifth Avenue. All three discover they share the same unhappy history of husbands who dove into middle-age by dumping them for trophy wives. Forming a warring triumvirate, they decide to get even, and along the way remind themselves of long-forgotten capabilities. The action gets a little too "wacky" at times, but the gals are great. Portraying an aging actress, Hawn is sometimes a little too flamboyant, but there is much fun to be had in her flashiness, especially when she pokes fun at Tinseltown and her persona. Instead of her usual brashness, Midler stretches herself and shows us a woman who is not just unhappy, but also deeply sorrowful. Not that she isn't quick with a wisecrack, but her expressive face alone tells the story of her marriage. As the repressed and guilt-ridden spouse of a self- involved ad executive, Keaton finds her anger, and her voice, when her psychiatrist (Marcia Gay Harden) oversteps ethical boundaries. Watching Keaton grow from an ineffectual homemaker into a powerful businessperson reminds us that it has been far too long since she has done a comedy. Director Hugh Wilson smartly chose supporting players who each brought something unique to the film. However, he does not maintain the first hour's effervescent humor throughout the film, as the ending is weakened by a softening of the wives' resolve. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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