Calendar Girls DVD Review

Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
Fun cover and menus make it clear that someone was paying attention to this DVD as a packaged deal. I like the cover because it’s just what it is, cheeky and it does hint at the chick flick lurking within. 🙂

Extras: 7/10

  • The Naked Truth Documentary – An all too short feature that introduces you to the real women behind the story. With interviews and clips from behind the scenes during the making of the movie this is an excellent starter extra.
  • Creating The Calendar Documentary – This is basically just an extension of the first extra but focuses on the making of the real calendar and the photography involved in getting the movie calendar photos just right. More interviews and bits with the real life Knapley women who started it all.
  • Deleted Scenes – deleted scenes are starting to lose their umph for me. None of these are really missed in the final cut of the movie, but a couple of them shed more light on the lead character, Chris and her strained relationship with her husband and son.

The Movie: 8/10:
Chick flick? Nah, nope, no way, uh uh, it’s soooo not a chick flick.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system let me succumb to reality and say that this is just about the ultimate chick flick. That’s not a bad thing, but it is something that people need to know. I don’t particularly like labeling movies, but in this case I want to make sure that if you decide to see it you are going in fully informed.

It’s a story about self acceptance, doing good, love, death, growing older, and being a woman. Oh, and getting naked in photos for a calendar. That naked part is not a trick to get you to see the movie. It’s the true story about a group of women who wanted to raise money for a hospital and decided to do a calendar featuring themselves in tasteful, artistic photos, in the nude.

“…to introduce us to the fascinating world of rugs. Oh, I stand corrected, not just rugs, it’s all forms of carpeting.” Beams the club leader when introducing the monthly speaker at the WI (Woman International) meeting. Chris, a somewhat disinterested member mumbles “Oh thank God for that.”  And so sets the tone for not only the monotony of these women’s lives, but the irreverence of one of our leading ladies. British films have a distinct flavor to them, with a mixture of their subdued cultural politeness combined with powerful  undertones of rebelliousness and that cheeky attitude. (cheeky = smart ass). Calendar girls pokes fun at the ritualistic confinements that women are often put under while making it perfectly clear that these same woman are under no one’s control.

The church organist has a tattoo on her shoulder that would fit into any biker bar in the states, while a few others don’t hesitate or flinch at the suggestion of taking nude photos for a very good cause. These break the stereo types of what we might think those classy British ladies are supposed to be like. It’s a true story so it’s not Hollywood making up some “girl power” scenario. This is real life and what a group of women did to defy those confines that are meant to define who they are. The movie portrays these ladies as individuals who, while being very elegant and following all the rules, still have such fierce individuality it cannot be tucked away and hidden behind the social graces they are supposed to put between them and the world.

The story is uplifting, funny, and yes, even charming. Again, that is not a bad thing. Therefore it follows that the movie is just as uplifting, funny, and charming. Why would it be bad to watch a story that tells the tale of a woman’s love for her husband who has lost his fight with cancer? Why would it be too mushy or emotional to engage in a story of friends who support each other in a way that pushes the limits of expectations? There’s nothing wrong with any of it. In fact, I think this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s not flashy or bold, and it’s not big budget or full of special effects. It’s just a slice of life kind of film that at its best makes you feel lucky to have people in your life that you love. And at worst might make you feel as though you don’t work hard enough in your life to make a difference in people’s lives.

They take a few dramatic liberties with the story, as most “based on a true story” movies do. Some characters are shuffled around, like the photographer in the movie is a nurse. In reality he was the husband of one of the main calendar girls. I’m sure there were other changes made, but then again, it’s the theme of the movie, not the accuracy of the details that really matter.

The countryside is gorgeous. The performances are perfect. The dialogue and relationships are intriguing and draw you in. You might even get that gut feeling that comes up sometimes when you know you should root for the underdogs, but you keep it to yourself for fear of embarrassing yourself. Well, root away at this movie and cheer for these ladies because they do more than strip off for charity. They find a way to give hope and self worth back to a lot of women who have been convinced that over forty your body and your image as a woman is out of date, old, and useless. These ladies do their quiet best to crack that hype and they do it with so much class.

I say watch this movie and just enjoy. If you think you are a tough guy and you can’t be bothered with such nonsense, get over yourself and learn a little something about the opposite sex.

Value: 6/10
I love this movie, but I don’t think it’s a keeper for most people. I highly recommend a rental for the general public who appreciates a semi-sappy story and likes the underdog kind of stuff. I want it in my collection, but that’s because it’s the kind of movie I could put in any time in the future and watch again for a quick pick me up. Not everyone will be looking to watch this one more than once.

To those lovely ladies like my mother, grab it, buy it, and keep it close to the DVD player because you will want to watch it again and again.

Overall Score 7/10