They may be comedy icons, but back in 1996 few people expected the trio of Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn to be a major box office draw. But they proved the doubters wrong to the tune of over $100 million domestic with The First Wives Club, out-grossing macho vehicles from the likes of Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks and Steven Seagal in the process.
In retrospect, it isn’t difficult to see why the film struck a chord. It’s themes of female friendship and middle-aged loneliness don’t run particularly deep, but the three women exude a delightful comic chemistry, and ninety minutes in their company is pretty much pure pleasure.
The First Wives Club follows three former college roommates who reunite thirty years later when another friend (played by Stockard Channing) commits suicide after being jilted for a younger woman by her husband. As it turns out, the three women are all facing a similar situation, and they quickly band together to seek justice not only for themselves, but for first wives everywhere.
The women all get standout moments, but in her self-deprecating turn as a ageing, surgically enhanced actress, Goldie Hawn effortlessly steals the movie. Her lips alone should have won her a Golden Globe, let alone her delivery of the hysterical barbs she trades with Midler’s character.
In this week’s episode, we deliver our full verdict on The First Wives Club – spoiler alert, it’s positive – and discuss some of our personal highlights, including Bette Midler’s unflattering knitwear, Maggie Smith’s ever-wandering accent and a certain socialite cameo that lands very differently in 2021…
Along the way, we also brainstorm some drinking games, check in with our listeners and pitch some sequel ideas to get these fabulous ladies back onto the box office charts where they belong!
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Next time, we’ll be looking back at an Oscar winning musical that saw art imitating life when the headline star found herself overshadowed by a talented underdog. Until then, happy listening and remember… don’t get mad, get a podcast!