The Women

Updating a comedy classic is not a good idea. Case in point: this misbegotten redo of Clare Booth Luce's 1936 play (and 1939 movie) about pampered Manhattan women who gossip about men who are never seen. Think Sex and the City without the sex. Murphy Brown creator Diane English has been trying to do this movie since her sitcom went off the air in 1998. It's finally here, and it's a major dud. A big-name cast of actresses gives it a go, but everyone from Meg Ryan as the cheated-on wife to Eva Mendes as the home-wrecking perfume girl struggles with a script that resists being crowbarred into the 21st century. OK, the ladies do more bonding than belittling each other, but the jokes barely escape their lips before they wither and die. Ironically, it's Murphy herself, Candice Bergen, in a cameo as Ryan's mother, who scores with a bitchy crack: "Bad facelift entering at two o'clock," Bergen sasses. "She looks like she just re-entered the Earth's atmosphere." The rest is a mess. As Murphy would say, "Aw, jeez."

From The Archives Issue 300: September 20, 1979