Last of the Blonde Bombshells [2000]

Genre: Comedy, Music
Perennial Oscar(r) nominee Judi Dench shakes off the dust of period pieces to play a sassy widow looking to recapture a little of the excitement of her youth: she was the star saxophone player of a World War II-era all-girl dance band. Yanking her instrument from mothballs, she starts blowing the old standards as a street musician, much to the horror of her cultured children (they prefer symphonies to swing classics), and then hatches a plan to track down her band mates for a gala reunion at her granddaughter's school dance. The script carries little suspense and few surprises, but the cast is a delight. Ian Holm costars as the band's womanizing drummer (in a dress and a platinum blonde wig), a rascally old rogue who seduced almost every member during their brief wartime run and married half of them in the intervening years. Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) is their trombonist, a hard-drinking American widow living it up in a Scottish castle; jazz great Cleo Laine is a trumpeter turned torch singer; and Leslie Caron cameos as their brassy bass player. Joan Sims (a fixture of the Carry On movies), Billie Whitelaw (Quills), and June Whitfield (the mother on Absolutely Fabulous) are among the great British character actors who join the fun. The old broads bring sass to the sentimentality in this fluffy, feel-good, made-for-cable comedy, insisting there is not only life after 60, but that it swings sweetly if only you let it. --Sean Axmaker

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