March 6, 2008

DVD Review- I Could Never Be Your Woman

This should have been a review of an upcoming theatrical release, but sadly that didn't happen. (read some of the insanity here: I Could Never be Your Women Goes Straight to DVD) The good news is that the actual film is not the reason why I Could Never Be Your Woman didn't make it to your local cinema. The film is a fun, funny film from one of the best practitioners of her craft, writer/director Amy Heckerling. Heckerling uses this film to make fun of how fake Hollywood is (a hysterical plastic surgery montage opens the film) and what happens to women as they age in the business (not only onscreen, but also to people working behind the scenes)

The film stars Michelle Pfeiffer (looking fantastic) as the 40-year-old showrunner of an aging teen comedy show You Go Girl. The show within the movie stars Stacey Dash (one of Heckerling's favorites - remember her in Clueless?) as a 20-something trying to stretch out her career playing a teenager. Paul Rudd gets cast in a bit part (he's also part of the Heckerling posse) and he and Pfeiffer hit it off and start dating. Pfeiffer is mortified to discover their age difference and breaks it off, but after some funny back and forths (without making it too much of a drama) they wind up staying together.

More than anything this film deals with the challenges a woman faces as she ages all the while trying to raise an independent, strong daughter. This film was shot in Britain (for financing reasons) in 2005, so it's populated by funny (but mostly unknown) British comedic actors. The amazing revelation of the film is the performance of Saoirse Ronan who burst onto the scene this year in Atonement (she also plays the lead in the highly anticipated The Lovely Bones). This film was her first. Ronan is so funny, so smart and is able to play a pre-teen American kid to perfection. (I still can't believe how good her accent is.) The chemistry between her and Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic and they even kind of look alike. What's also great, and has always been a hallmark of Amy Heckerling's work, is that does not write down to kids. She writes them as real, smart little people and that's what makes her adolescent characters so special. She gets it, especially when she is writing about young women.

One of my favorite scenes is when Pfeiffer meets her daughter's teacher armed with statistics about how boys and girls learn differently. She stands up for her daughter and tells the teacher that it is his job to make girls feel good about math and science, not scared of it. Another fantastic scene is when Pfeiffer is waiting to head into the network executive's office and there are two drones sitting next to her trying to think of a woman (over 30) they could cast in something. Every woman mentioned is dismissed as too old. After a minute
Pfeiffer can't take it and just lets them have it. It's a precious moment and one only a woman like Heckerling who has worked in the business for such a long time could get way with.

While I can't say it's perfect (I still don't understand the point of Tracey Ullman playing Mother Nature), it is so much better than some of the other films about women that recently made it into the theatres. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.