Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!
The name Del Close is not one most of us associate with the pre-eminent comedians of the past twenty-five years, but we should.
In the documentary “For Madmen Only” from Heather Ross, narrated by Michaela Watkins we learn about this guru of comedy who helped discover and ultimately shape such talents as Bill Murray and Chris Farley.
The number of talking heads who pay homage to Del Close as their teacher is lengthy. Here is a quick look at who you will find in this documentary talking about Del Close: Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Patton Oswalt, Mike Myers, Will Farrell, Chris Farley, Steven Colbert, Jon Favreau, George Wendt, director Adam McKay, Ike Barinholtz, John Belushi, Harold Ramis, Dave Thomas, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catharine O’Hara, Jason Sudeikis, Rachel Dratch, Howard Hesseman, Tim Meadows, Mike Nichols, Elaine May and “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk.
The early performances onstage by famous comics is legendary.
Who was Del Close? And what, exactly, did he do to help that impressive list of comics get their start?
Amy Pohler in “For Madmen Only.”
John Belushi in “For Madmen Only.”
In 1960 Close moved to Chicago, his home base for much of the rest of his life, to perform and direct at Second City, but was fired due to substance abuse. He spent the latter half of the 1960s in San Francisco where he was the house director of improv ensemble The Committee. He toured with the Merry Pranksters, and created light shows for Grateful Dead shows. In 1972 he returned to Chicago and to Second City. He also directed and performed for Second City’s troupe in Toronto, in 1977. Prior to those Chicago years with Second City, Close had, at age 23, become a member of the Compass Players in St. Louis.
Del Close was certifiable. He ran away from home at the age of 17 and joined the circus, working as a fire-eater and being shot from a cannon. He spent time in mental hospitals and was checked out to do his show in Chicago and then checked back in to the Cook County Hospital Psych Ward. He had had a complete breakdown while supervising the Great White North in Toronto in 1976, a Second City outpost.
From a troubled childhood that saw Del’s alcoholic neglectful father commit suicide came a highly intelligent and highly creative comic genius who was devoted to promoting improvisation as an entirely separate art form, which he called “Harold.” He also supervised a magazine for D.C. Comics called “The Wasteland,” although he admits, “Most of our readership didn’t quite get it.”
This documentary written by Alan Samuel Golman and Heather Ross describes Close as “a living legend in comedy.” Bill Murray organized a deathbed party for the inveterate smoker, who refused to quit even when emphysema was killing him.
Jason Sudeikis of “Ted Lasso” on “For Madmen Only.”
The Del stories involving pot, alcohol and psychedelics never quit, starting with groups like the Merry Pranksters and continuing on until his death. Close died on March 4, 1999, at the Illinois Masonic Hospital (now the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center) in Chicago, five days before his 65th birthday. An early birthday party was held for him by Bill Murray, who summoned many of Del’s former students to his bedside, a party which is on film in the documentary.
Close bequeathed his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to be used in its productions of Hamlet, and specified that he be duly credited in the program as portraying Yorick. Charna Halpern, Close’s long-time professional partner and the executor of his will, donated a skull—purportedly Close’s—to the Goodman in a high-profile televised ceremony on July 1, 1999.
A front-page article in the Chicago Tribune in July 2006 questioned the authenticity of the skull, citing the presence of teeth (Close had no teeth at the time of his death) and autopsy marks (Close was not autopsied), among other problems.
Halpern stood by her story at the time, but admitted in a The New Yorker interview three months later that she had purchased the skull from a local medical supply company. Halpern is shown onscreen bemoaning the fact that the public learned that this was not, in truth, Del Close’s real skull.
This film is a tribute to the creative comic who lived and taught this credo: “You have a light within you. Burn it out.”
“For Madmen Only” premiered on July 27th and is available on Apple TV and Altovid
“Recovery,” a film written by Whitney Everton and Stephen Meek was my first film of Day #2 of SXSW Online Film Festival. Two sisters, Jamie (Whitney Call) and Blake (Mallory Everton) Jerikovic stage an across-the-country trip to rescue their Nanna from an old folks’ home during the pandemic.
It is one of the few—-perhaps only—films I’ve seen that completely embraces Covid-19 in its storyline. I don’t mean documentaries, of which I’ve seen several, but a feature film with Covid as a central storyline with the emphasis on the light side.
The traveling sisters (Whitney and Mallory) have actually been best friends since the age of nine in real life. The delightful home-made videos at the end confirms their easy familiarity. They are also sketch comedy veterans of “Comedy C” and do a wonderful job of embodying their characters and (for Mallory) in writing the screenplay. Comedy is not easy to write. It needs to be as light and fluffy as a souffle. These two seem like the likely heirs apparent to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
When the film opens, Jamie (Whitney Call) is celebrating her 30th birthday. The coronavirus is not yet a thing. Jamie is a teacher of 4th graders. She is thinking about buying airline or hotel stock and investing in a pricey gym membership. Sister Blake (Mallory Everton) has just had a one-night stand with a cute guy named Scott; that is another topic of conversation. They are unaware that they are about to be frozen in time by the pandemic. In the background of the next few scenes we hear the disheartening news of 51,000 deaths on March 30 of 2020. (If nothing else, this film will be a great, but not depressing, time capsule.)
Upon learning of the ravages of coronavirus on Nana’s nursing home, the pair, headquartered in New Mexico, at first are counting on their older married sister, Erin (Julia Jolley), who lives in Washington closer to Nanna, to ride to the rescue. Paulina Jerockova (Anna SwerdHansen), their beloved Nana, needs to be moved out of the nursing home as quickly as possible—a plot point that is factual, as one-third of all deaths in the United States took place in the close quarters of nursing homes.
The husband of Whitney Call, Stephen Meek, helped write and direct this light-hearted film, and I recommend it for those who want to see the comedy stars of tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Erin (Julia Jolley) is off on a cruise with her husband. (“The tickets were so cheap,” to which the sisters in New Mexico respond, “Yes, because it’s a death trap!”)
There are so many funny things in this 80-minute film that I enjoyed, even if I did have to watch it at 10 a.m. after covering some late-night films. I was relieved to discover that it wasn’t a grim documentary about surviving some horrible illness (since I had forgotten exactly what I signed up early for), but a light-hearted distraction that audiences perfect for our time.
First, there is a sub-plot about the fourth grade class pet mice. Before the duo rides off to rescue Nana, Jamie must make arrangements for the mice to be cared for by one of her students’ families. Student Jacob Harper promises to take care of the mice, Bert and Ernie. It turns out that Ernie should have been named Ernestine and gives birth to mice babies. This does not go over well with Mrs. (Ainsley) Harper, who threatens retaliation. This plays out as a cell phone conversation
There’s a funny bit about the girls really getting into their music while driving and pounding on their car horn as they tool down the Interstate. Next to them on the highway is an elderly man on a motorcycle. The girls roll their window down to explain their innocent exuberance. Thinking that they are honking AT him, the Hell’s Angel Senior spits through the open window of their car. The panic over strange spit is merited and very funny.
There is the potential hottie “Scott,” of whom Blake says, “I seriously met him at the worst moment in history.” After sending Scott several funny (but meant to be endearing) memes, she gets a text from Scott’s roommate, saying Scott has died of Covid-19. Now THAT doesn’t sound “funny,” so….
Scott has simply panicked. He tried to think of a way out of responding appropriately to Blake’s memes. His idea of an “appropriate” response is, [after revealing that he is NOT dead], sending an inappropriate personal picture and then texting Blake to ask her for her Hulu password. (Someone calling himself “LibraryGuy” once sent me a totally unwelcome pic. Use your imagination on this one.)
The excuse for Scott’s inexplicable behavior? “He’s probably just stressed about Covid.” That, or he is incurably out-of-it, but the lengths to which Scott has gone do come off as funny in the expert comic hands of our two leads.
Then there’s Nana’s dog Bruce. The girls need to collect Bruce—who has been farmed out at at an acreage with a completely weird dog-sitter— along the way. Nanna has also been very fond of Fred, a fellow inmate in her nursing home. Fred has been making nightly visits to Nanna’s room. The girls are explicit about telling Nanna NOT to let Fred in, as he may have the coronavirus. The adventures retrieving Bruce and repelling Fred are enjoyable.
Blake and Jamie are trying desperately to be the first family members to reach Nanna’s nursing home before Erin, the older sister from the cruise ship, arrives. That, too, presents some humor, which the girls explore to the fullest. [I could really relate to the cruise ship scenario, having just come back from a cruise to Alaska before all hell broke loose.]
There is an interlude where Blake races off while divesting of the jumper shorts she is wearing. I don’t know what the accurate term for this fashion choice is, but, when pregnant, I called it my “Humpty suit.” It is largely shapeless, with straps, and very comfortable. Blake takes them off and throws them into a tree, declaring them to have been “too chafey.” You had to be there, but it just “works.”
I also really enjoyed the simple asides about how Nanna used to drive her car by using a mop handle on the accelerator. (I had a friend who used a brick, but nevermind. Really.) And then there’s the “go-to” strategy for distracting older sis Erin by asking her to share “the birth story.” [Every family has a similar story that will set one of its members off on a long stroll down memory lane.]
“Recovery” was genuinely funny and well done. I had forgotten exactly what this one was about. Stumbling out early in the day to view it after struggling through the drug overdose stories, Isis captivity stories and horrible illness films (most notably, multiple sclerosis), I was delighted to start my day with “Recovery.” Try it; you’ll like it.
“Recovery” will help us all to recover our good mood(s).
It’s Tuesday and I drove to the Toyota dealership to pick up my brand new Toyota Prius.
This wasn’t just ANY Prius. It is a 2021 Twentieth Anniversary Prius, with only 1200 being made, nationwide, with exactly the type of detail, and our dealership (Hiland Toyota) getting only 2 cars: red and white, both with black interiors. I am a Prius devotee and used to take my EICC auto body repair students out to the parking lot to see and test drive my 2002 car, when they were a rarity. The students were then asked to write a 5-sentence paragraph about their impressions of the car. My favorite? “This car is too quiet. I could never pick up chicks in this car.” And then there was the rather large football-player sized student who felt his fingers were too big to work on the engine!
This will make the sixth (6th) Prius I have purchased, beginning in 2002 with the model that looked like a Ford Focus (not a hatchback, in other words) and retailed for $20,050 with a $500 rebate from the government for giving the brand new hybrid technology a try. My husband was somewhat skeptical of the claims for the car, but I had been driving a Cadillac, one of 4 in a row, and gas was very expensive at that point in time.
So, I bought the Water Bug (name of the first car) and it served well and honorably, until my daughter-in-law was hit by a BMW. In 2004, I moved up to purchase one of the new hatchback models, because, since I wrote books, it would be a great Bookmobile, which the Firefly was. (As you can tell from the name, it was red—salsa red). I loved this car and I would not have traded, except that the son and wife needed a second vehicle and I really wanted to try out the hatchback, which I loved then and loved now for its convenience and utility.
Then, my daughter graduated from high school and needed a car in Nashville, Tennessee, where she attended Belmont University.
I gave my daughter the 2004 Firefly and moved up to a 2008 Grasshopper (Sea Foam Green). I really liked the lay-out on the green 2008 Prius, as I could put my purse on the center console, rather than on the floor of the passenger side.
In 2013, I moved up to a blue Prius (the Blue Bird), selling the Grasshopper (which is still in the family) to my son and family, as the Water Bug had been felled by the BMW in a small fender bender. When my son went to get his I-Pass off the viser, just for fun, he tried to see if the car would still start up and the motor turned right over. Only the chassis had been crushed beyond repair. (Good bye, Water Bug.)
When we began spending winter time in Texas, we bought yet another used Prius, and it was (also) a 2008, which I have dubbed the Silver Fish. It sits in our garage in Texas half the year.
But, today, with the daughter’s 2004 Firefly beginning to have some issues and with the hope of cheering myself up during a pandemic and with the hope that the used Firefly can be sold by the daughter and help support her as she and the entire airline industry (she flies for SW) try to return to solvency, I went to pick up my Brand New Supersonic Red Prius, Firefly II. It has more bells and whistles than I can list here and I really like it.
We made it to the VERY FIRST stoplight that turns up Kennedy Drive from the Toyota dealership. My new car had only 3 miles on the speedometer, most of those from driving it on the grounds of the dealership. We literally had probably not driven 100 yards to this stop light and had been stopped at it for about a minute when a car with Texas license plates and a driver with NO insurance ran into the back of my BRAND NEW CAR.
Aidy Bryant, Chicago’s Columbia College graduate and “Saturday Night Live” cast member, is the star of Hulu’s new series “Shrill,” released March 15th, produced by Elizabeth Banks. (SXSW Photo).
Aidy Bryant’s new Hulu series “Shrill” drops today (March 15th). To promote it, Chicago’s Columbia College alumnus Aidy Bryant, her producer Elizabeth Banks (“30 Rock,” “The Hunger Games”), author Lindy West (“Notes from a Loud Woman”), writer Ally Rushfield, and co-star Lolly Adefope were in Austin at a SXSW screening of the first two episodes of “Shrill.”
There are few comedy frontiers left for writers. Jokes about ethnic groups are out and, (other thanPresident Trump), making fun of the handicapped is verboten. Midgets, once comic fodder, are now “Little People.”
But fat people and old people are still fair game.
With Ms. Bryant as the lead, this serio-comic series focuses on how overweight people cope with the constant barrage of negative remarks and actions they are subjected to in real life. But it’s not played solely for laughs.The “Shrill” material is both funny and touching.
It helps that the main character’s Annie’s mother is played by comic pro Julia Sweeney (after 18 years away from performing) and that her sickly father is played by Daniel Stern, who has been acting since the age of 17 (45 years). [Stern first earned kudos as Cyril in “Breaking Away” (1979) and in Barry Levinson’s“Diner” (1982)].
Elizabeth Banks (“30 Rock,” “The Hunger Games”) directs a remark to the author of the “Shrill” source material, Lindy West.(Photo by Connie Wilson).
Special praise should go to Annie’s (Aidy Bryant’s) best friend, played by Lolly Adefope, who was great in the two episodes we saw. Aidy, herself, brings a vulnerability and poignancy to the role that reminds of Melissa McCarthy in her Oscar-nominated turn this year in “Can You Ever Forgive Me.” Annie (Aidy) has the likeability to make you want to root for her; her visual reactions to indignities like her boyfriend asking her to sneak out of his apartment the back way to avoid meeting his roommate brothers: heartbreaking, but all too human.
The opening episode cuts right to the chase. Aidy becomes pregnant by her sometimes boyfriend. She has been using the Morning After pill, but the pharmacist failed to tell her that the pill would be ineffective if the woman weighed more than 175 pounds. (“Oh, yeah…that guy,” says a co-worker at the pharmacy. “He’s very bad at his job.”)
The write-up in the SXSW program says: “From Executive Producer Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks comes Shrill, a comedy series starring Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live) as Annie, a fat young woman who wants to change her life—but not her body. Annie is trying to start her career as a journalist while juggling bad boyfriends, a sick parent, and a perfectionist boss.”
(L to R) Janelle Riley, Editor of “Variety;” Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”); Writer Ally Brushfield; Producer Elizabeth Banks, and author Lindy West at the Q&A following “Shrill.”
Following the screening of Episodes #1 and #2 from “Shrill,” Janelle Riley, editor of “Variety,” moderated a panel consisting of the author of the source material, Lindy West, whose book of essays “Notes from a Loud Woman” served as the inspiration for the series;Elizabeth Banks, actress and producer, was onstage with writer Ally Rushfield and Aidy. The first question was, “What was your first job?”
The author responsible for the concept (Lindy West) admitted that she had not had much of a goal in life of becoming a writer. “I wasn’t one of those who wanted to be a writer. My first real writing job was for “Where” magazine in Seattle.” She described the task of trying to make the Space Needle fascinating in every issue as difficult.
Aidy Bryant, who married her boyfriend of ten years on April 28, 2018 (she met him when they bothwere part of Annoyance Theater in Chicago), described her first job as “musical improvisation in Indiana and Ohio, which nobody wanted to hear.”
The writer in the group, Alexandra (Allie) Rushfield said her first job was, “A video store, because I’m middle aged.” She also admitted to a stint with the Groundlings Comedy troupe.
Elizabeth Banks, known to audiences for her role as Effie Trinkett in “The Hunger Games” and for her continuing role as Alec Baldwin’s girlfriend on “Thirty Rock,” has a production company with her husband, Max Handelman. Her first-job answer was, “I was a latch-key kid and my first job was when I played Pontius Pilate in ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar.’” She then regaled us with a few bars from her big musical number.
Elizabeth Banks (L) and Lindy West (“Notes from A Loud Woman”) during the Q&A after the new Hulu series “Shrill.” (Photo by Connie Wilson).
Moderator Janelle Riley, mentioning that “Notes from a Loud Woman” was “a great collection of essays,” wanted to know how or when they were envisioned as a series. Elizabeth Banks answered that it was “pretty quickly after the book came out and there were a lot of option meetings.” We were told that Aidy was actually the first person considered for the role.
Aidy (Bryant) said, “It was the first time I ever saw myself in a piece solo. They let me be involved in the writing and producing, which was huge for me.”
The big question many of us had was this: How much personal experience did you bring to the character?
The cast noted that they were initially referring to the main character as “Lindy” (the author’s name) but changed the character’s name to Annie, since it is not a bio-pic. One noted that the series was “the child of many mothers.”
The cast members railed against Twitter (“Please all quit Twitter and put it out of business and make the world a better place.”) where random strangers gather to hurl insults. “What a joy to be called a fat disgusting pig constantly,” said Aidy Bryant. She shared that an incident in the first episode actually happened to her. A thin, beautiful trainer grabs her wrist and comments on what a small frame she has, saying, “There’s a thin person inside of you trying to get out.”
In the episode, Aidy laughs and responds, “Well, let’s hope she’s okay in there.”
She also shared that, when she has played Sarah Huckabee Sanders in skits on “Saturday Night Live” half of the viewers who sent messages called her “a fat, disgusting pig” and half said, “Aidy shouldn’t be playing this strong, independent woman.”
All agreed: “People are not used to seeing fat people do anything on camera.” (One possible exception to this might be the character on “This Is Us,” Kate Pearson, played by Chrissy Metz). Elizabeth Banks said, “I think this is very revolutionary. I think our entire cast and crew wanted to empower women and get rid of the people who are always telling you you aren’t good enough.”
Lindy West, the author, said, “You never see fat people doing anything except being fat. The world intrudes on you and tells you constantly that you aren’t living up to its standards. Society reminds us all day, every day, that if you’re a fat woman, there’s something wrong with you.”
One aspect that the second episode touched on was the “very complicated relationship with your mother and her body. That represents a lot of love and pain for many women.” I can certainly attest to this.
I had a mother who harped about my weight gain after I gave birth to my son. She never missed an opportunity to insert a diet or recipe reminder in her letters. Then, after I fasted for two full months on liquid protein and lost 72 pounds, and showed up at home at exactly the same weight I had been when I graduated from high school, she never made a single positive comment. I have a good friend (and former college roommate, Pam) who has told me how uncomfortable it was for her to be around and hear her mother say things like, “Why can’t you be thin like Pam?” or, on other occasions, “Why can’t you be thin like your sister?” My mother, like Lindy West’s, is of Norwegian (and Dutch) heritage. Is that a clue?
Said writer Allie Rushfield, “The deal in the writing room is that we would find the universal themes…that period in one’s late teens and early twenties when it’s all about appearance.” Aidy, the series lead, said, “I remembered how much I hated my own guts then. I felt sad for myself—for all the time I wasted when I was sold the bill of goods about how I was worthless unless I was thin.”
Added the writers (Alexandra Rushfield, Lindy West, Aidy Bryant): “I feel like the entire world is shifting, too.”
Let’s hope so. In the meantime, I ordered up Hulu for my husband’s March 21st birthday, primarily because of this series—[although, let’s face it, I’ve not been able to see Elisabeth Moss’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” either, and obviously that is required viewing in the age of Trump].
So, how much did I like “Shrill”? At least $72 worth, minimum, and that’s probably on the low side (depending on whether you opt out of the commercials or not).
I also want to thank the publicist who got me in and let me sit in the Reserved seating area. Thank you very much. I never did gain admission to “NOS4A2,” despite writing repeatedly and once interviewing Joe Hill. That’s all I’m going to be writing about that other new series for a loooong time.
OK…So, I went to see Amy Schumer’s new movie “I Feel Pretty” (and received a button that says “I Feel PrettyAwesome,” which I wore all day).I liked it—the button AND the movie.
There, I’ve said it. I liked it.
I thought it was insightful and funny and I liked lines like, “I met this baby the other day that was wack as hell.” [You can see the meeting with said baby in the clip I justposted of the movie trailer]. The trailer contains the best parts of the film, and, no, it isn’t a laugh-out-loud funny movie, because Amy is trying to make the point that (to quote a line from the movie): “This line/movie is for every girl who is readyto believe in herself.” Or, “I think a lot of people are all confused about themselves…You doubt yourself over and over. What if we didn’t care about how we looked?”
The premise is that, when Amy hits her head, she suddenly sees herself as perfect. She no longer has the crippling insecurities that beset her prior to being hit in the head. It takes another blow to her skull to turn her back into insecure Amy. One of the lines spoken to her boyfriend in the film (Ethan, well played by Rory Scovel) is: “She is awesome. She is the complete package. Your girl can handle herself in a knife fight!” Or, as Ethan says to Renee, “You know who you are and you don’t care how the world sees you.”
The movie makes a plea for “The strength and wisdom to say ‘I’m better than all that. We are real women.”
Why is she being pilloried on social media for making such undeniably positive statements? The answer seems to be that some think she is too pretty to be saying these things? Is that it? Amy is too pretty to make a statement that benefits all women everywhere? (Sheesh) Get over your bad selves, nit-pickers. And,to the newly-wed Amy:YOU GO, GIRL!
I couldn’t help but empathize with what she must be thinking and feeling as people hurl brick-bats at her for articulating the undeniable truth that most of us are insecure in some way and that it can often become almost a debilitating disease, if it inhibits us too much or prevents us from becoming our true, authentic, best selves. The film also gets the point across that TOO MUCH confidence is, well, too much.
That is probably what the uproar is all about: mid-movie Amy briefly becomes a jerk to her friends (played by Aidy Bryant of SNL as Vivian and Busy Philipps asJane) and we want to LIKE Amy and empathize with her. If she’s confident and thinks she’s great and is enjoying herself, well, we can’t have THAT now, can we? How dare she!?
If you watch the trailer (above), you’ll see the funniest parts of the movie, complete with Amy’s attempt to win a bikini contest (she doesn’t), but, mainly, you’ll see her becoming a jerk as she gives in to her uber confident inner self, confidence which was triggered by a fall from a Soul Cycle bike that dumped her on her head. I’m thinking that her in-your-face confidence was just too much for some females tostomach. Be reassured: she doesn’t STAY a jerk.
Girls always seem to accept other girls, or women other women, only if they are sweet and malleable and supportive and “nice,” as my husband euphemistically terms it. It still isn’t acceptable in society to be sassy and funny and irreverent, if you’re female. You still get labeled as “a bitch” if you display any of those characteristics, even though Amy Schumer rose to fame because of the irreverent salacious humor of her stand-up act (and, yes, I HAVE seen her act, “live”). [It can’t be the men who are complaining and giving the film a thumbs down on YouTube, can it?]
I thought the opening sequence where she is participating in a Soul Cycle class with model-thin women and her bike seat gives away and she experiences a jarring blow to her vagina was note-perfect. She hobbles out with her pants torn and in pain. Have none of you (females) who are giving it a thumbs down on YouTube never experienced the crushing pain of falling onto the metal part of a boy’s bike? No? [Okay, then. It must be just me.]
I’ve also been involved in exercise classes where it was quite obvious I did not belong. My favorite story is the one where, somehow, I ended up LEADING the class and had NO idea where I was to “lead” them. It was a lot like the scene in “Animal House” where the marching band marches into a brick wall. I also remembered my husband once commenting that I was only equipped to compete in the Olympics in the “400 yard roll” or some such joke. (He WAS kidding, but his humor was lost on me at the time.)
I actually wrote several humorous essays about exercise classes I have known and published them in “Laughing through Life,“ so if you want to hear all about the types of things that befall Amy in her class, but happened, IRL, to me, you can order a copy on Amazon.
But that’s not the point.
The point of the movie as written and directed by Abby Kohn (“2009’s “He’s Just Not That In To You”) and Marc Silverstein (husband of *BusyPhilipps,”How To Be Single”) to me, was that Amy wants each and every one of us who is female to feel comfortable in our own skins. So what if we have too much junk in the trunk? Forgetaboutit. So what if we are not rail-thin? Move on. Get over it! Be confident.
BUT, and this is important, do NOT lose good friends because you become an insufferable ego-maniac.
Other good things about the movie:
Michael Andrews selected the music (“This Girl Is On Fire” for one) and it is great. Michelle Williams plays the daughter of a cosmetics icon who has a very soft voice like Jackie Kennedy’s (okay, you’re too young to remember how Jackie’s voice was very soft and not forceful at all, and Marilyn Monroe’s was the same way, sojust work with me here) and, therefore, has a hard time being taken seriously. She also is involved in some serious sibling rivalry with her handsome brother, GrantLeClair (Tom Hopper), who comes on to Amy at one point (Amy remains true to Ethan, so why did the haters not note THAT?)
Many critics praised the appearance of Lauren Hutton as Gramma LeClaire (Lily LeClaire) in “I Feel Pretty,” who founded the cosmetics company, which is attempting to turn out an affordable cosmetics line suitable for sale in Target stores.
Lauren appears as a retired model, which she really is. She made her film debut in 1968 in “Paper Lion” and still works as a model, apparently because she is still reed-thin.
Lauren definitely has been out in the sun too much for too long and she has done nothing to diminish the age-related wrinkles caused by too much sun exposure. I actually looked up her age, after the film, since I was hoping she was older than me. She was…but not by that much.
For someone who is listed as 74 (birthday: Nov. 17, 1943) she is thin, but, aside from that, she might consider whether the path she wants to take is the one taken by Jane Fonda, or the one taken by others, which doesn’t have to mean plastic surgery, but does mean trying to diminish age-related deterioration. Yes, I know. This is in direct opposition to the message of the movie, but the message of the movie for a young woman is quite different than for a “mature” (don’t say “old”) woman:society has not moved forward enough to accept prune-like visages that could have remained recognizable if the owner of the face had taken the slightest precautions.
To me, since we are only given one face, it is irresponsible not to at least try to keep it looking halfway decent. While that also applies to our bodies, I agree with Amy that a woman in today’s society ought to NOT have to be reed-thin to be considered attractive. We women have to bear children and cook and clean and, usually, also work,and genetics will get you every time, so not all of us will remain emaciated in our golden years. Lauren is reed-thin, so she gets to keep modeling. She looks like hell, facially, but nevermind that, as long as she is thin.
That, to me, was the message for we “mature” types and, yes, that was a contradiction of the first magnitude, which I blame(d) on the age difference between the character Amy is playing (Renee Bennett) and the one that Lauren Hutton is playing (Lily LeClaire).
And probably something that the writers never considered, either, since the male writer (Marc Silverstein) is also the husband of Busy Philipps, [whois supposed to be getting a talk show this fall] and Abby Kohn might have tried for Jane Fonda for the Lauren Hutton role—or any other mature actress who has not thrown caution to the winds and abandoned her face to extensive sun damage.