Rating: R Running Time: 99 minutes
Stars: Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Wanda Skyes, Camryn Manheim, Eric Roberts
Director: Susan Seidelman
I truly am not a total buzz-kill, and, yes, my own hot flashes notwithstanding, I think menopause is certainly a topic to be mined for humor. But The Hot Flashes director Susan Seidelman (of Desperately Seeking Susan fame) has taken a nose-dive in my esteem with her latest film, which stereotypes women, "that time of life," men and just about everything else.
Worse yet, Seidelman somehow managed to get some very talented actresses to go along with her for this silly ride, and I just can't figure out why anyone associated with the project didn't say, "We can be funny and smart at the same time." Not that The Hot Flashes is that funny.
Brooke Shields plays Beth Humphrey, a Burning Bush, Texas, mid-lifer suffering her own private hot summer and receiving not an ounce of sympathy from her dunce-like postman husband, played by Eric Roberts.
But Beth finds new purpose when she learns that the mobile breast cancer-screening program in her community has been defunded, and she launches a plan to raise enough money to save it.
The plan involves Beth attempting to round up a bunch of girlfriends from her high school days, all of whom at one time played some basketball, forming a team called, of course, the Hot Flashes, and challenging the current high school girls champion team to a fundraising series of games. Initially reluctant, Beth's friends, despite lingering rivalries and grudges, eventually suit up — in pink, no less.
Camryn Manheim plays Roxie Rosales, who has a penchant for baking and for marijuana, both of which she blames for the size of her big hips. Daryl Hannah (looking very weird with red hair worn in ringlets) is Ginger Peabody, who runs the local car dealership and lives with a woman she claims is just a friend. Voluptuous Virginia Madsen plays Clementine Wink, a highly sexed divorceé, and Wanda Sykes takes on the most believable character of the bunch as Florine Clarkston, the town mayor who doesn't want to call attention to her color (which basketball most certainly would do).
All of the lady players' personality characteristics are clichéd, as are their on- and off-court interactions. Their coach, Paul Lazarini, portrayed by the diminutive Mark Povinelli (3 feet 9 in real life), comes off as a joke, and the film's nonplot is as predictable as they come.
One redeeming element of The Hot Flashes is that it has as its charity partner the American Cancer Society. The premiere of the film served as a fundraiser, and cast members participated in a public service announcement for the organization. It's just too bad that the movie's early-detection message gets buried in all the nonsense.
Meg Grant is West Coast editor for AARP The Magazine.