In honor of The First Wives Club turning twenty years old this September, we give thanks for the classic cult comedy, it's legacy and take a look at where it's heading next. The movie was an unexpected box office smash grossing $181,489,203 worldwide, not bad for a film that only had a $26million budget. For those of you who are yet to experience the fabulosity that is The First Wives Club, watch the trailer below, it will change your life:
The Legacy (Spoilers)
The movie is groundbreaking on so many levels, scoring very highly on the Bechdel test. It may seem like a film where women spend all their efforts trying to get back at the men in their lives, but it goes so much deeper.
Even from the beginning this rom-com hits you hard in the feels, with Stockard Channing as Cynthia taking a leap off of her penthouse roof because she cannot live anymore with the pain her husband has caused her. It's the suicide that is the call to action for the leading ladies.
This gloomy start to the movie provides the inspiration the main three characters need in order to change their lives and honor Cynthia's memory. The seek out to make their own husbands pay for what they've done to them, but along the way the end up changing so much more. We see women dealing with their friendships and their personal identities as they move into the middle years of their lives. They tackle issues that are very poignant in a light manner, making it much easier for audiences to digest.
Take Annie, played by Diane Keaton, she's suffering self-esteem issues along with the collapse of her marriage. She has ongoing mother problems too (don't we all?) and on top of that, her daughter has just come out as gay. Annie welcomes her daughter's sexuality, but admittedly in a way that takes things bit too far. Let's face it, nobody wants their mother showing up on a date in a gay bar just because she's trying to be supportive. Cringe.
With the help of her friends, Annie is able to feel more confident again and they act as an outlet to release the things she wants to say but she's bottling up, because well, she's lost her therapist to her husband.
We're not sure who we hate more at this point, the lying, cheating husband or the therapist who's been listening to Annie's problems all the while sleeping with her husband?
Brenda played by Bette Midler, on the other hand is dealing with the fact her husband, in the midst of a midlife crisis has left her for a much younger and sexier woman, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Brenda has to come to terms with the fact middle age has left her overweight and dumpy. She has all the sass she always did yet the outside no longer reflects the fire inside of her.
On top of this she's raising a teenage boy, who is at odds with the separation of his parents, not knowing where his loyalty lies. Brenda feels out of touch and unable to reach Jason making her feel even more like a failure. Plus her husband has stopped making child support payments. Bastard.
In hindsight it's awful that a suicide and a breakdown of marriages is the thing that reunites these women, but their friendship is a blessing and together they get through their struggles. When was the last time you saw a Hollywood film where women playing their real ages came together to support each other?
Finally we have Elise, played by Goldie Hawn, here we have the struggling actress, middle-aged and out of work. Elise uses plastic surgery to keep her relevant, because she feels the industry practically demands it of women, to stay looking twenty forever. She also has a serious alcohol problem, that is slowly taking over her life. She has no children and no one who genuinely cares for her until Brenda and Annie come back into her life and get her back on her feet.
The friendship between the women is very real, they laugh, they cry and they fight just like real women. The characters are three dimensional, not simply projections of what Hollywood deems a woman to be, which is why this rom-com goes beyond the realms of light entertainment and offers you so much more. Which is why even after twenty years, it's still relevant and more importantly, yet to be beaten.
The Comedy, The Quotes And The Cult Following
Without a doubt this movie has given us some of the most memorable quotes ever. It's found it's way into pop culture and those who treasure the film randomly quip the one liners freely. At the Golden Globes in 2013, Jennifer Lawrence threw out a quote, which must have baffled The First Wives Club virgins, but those in the know praised Lawrence's reference.
Here's our pick of the finest quotes from the film, feel free to start using them in your daily lives.
The script is littered with wonderful one-liners and sassy comebacks that will have you quoting amongst fellow fans for years to come. The cult following of the film has been astounding too, with a huge fan-base mainly made up of middle-aged women and the gay community, due to the three leading ladies who prove you can be fabulous and independent at any age.
The movie may now be twenty years old and while some elements such as wardrobe and technology now look dated, the sentiment, script and performances are timeless. All of these elements together have created a movie that speaks to many people and has led to numerous parodies.
The First Wives Club 2.0
Due to the popularity of the movie and the novel on which it's based there has been an outcry from fans to see a sequel. Every now and again there is a whisper of a rumor that the girls are reuniting to make these unfulfilled dreams come true, but sadly these have never amounted to anything. Nevertheless, we always get excited at the thought of one.
If you thought this movie couldn't get any camper you'd be wrong. There is a full blown musical. The musical premiered in 2009 in San Diego, California but was reworked in 2015 for a stint in Chicago. It welcomed mixed reviews from critics and although the cult following meant tickets sold well, it never did make it to Broadway as intended.
I would probably see it for shits and giggles, but I'm not sure how well it would hold up? From the video the characters seem like hammed up caricatures of the original movie cast. No doubt it would be a good night out, with a bottle of cheap wine, but it does seems overly stagey.
The TV Reboot
It's all confirmed, there is to be a TV Land re-boot of The First Wives Club expected to be on screens early next year. The show will be set in present-day San Francisco so sadly we will loose that 90s nostalgia.
The show have finally announced who is to play the three leading ladies. Alyson Hannigan aka Willow is to play Maggie who is an English professor at the University of San Francisco. Megan Hilty aka Ivy Lynn will play Kim, a successfully actress who closing in on 'old age' and, most recently announced, we have Vanessa Lachey a.k.a Nick Lachey's wife, who is going to play Sasha, a professional chef who is planning on marrying her girlfriend.
It's fair to say they've kept the skeleton of the original, but given it a modern twist. The actresses of course are around a decade and a half younger than Bette, Diane and Goldie were, so the aging issues may not really be a problem, unless now forty is considered old in the new millennium? Then there's the gay relationship and we hope there's a real substance to this story and it's not just the script writers ticking off a representation box.
We hope the women are just as strong, witty and supportive of each other as the movie showed the characters to be. That of course being one of the main pulls of the original. If we're being honest, we want a musical number too, they've got Hilty's lungs it would be a shame not to use them. We shall have to wait and see what TV Land do with the show, we pray to Bette Midler that they serve the legacy well and it retains both the comedy and sentiment of the original which many love so dearly.
HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY, FIRST WIVES CLUB, here's to twenty more! Now of course, there's only one way to finish this up. Are you all feeling brave?
What's your favorite First Wives moment?