What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the women pose nude, but in most cases their breasts are obscured by some sort of strategically-placed prop. There are several sex-related jokes and discussions. A teenage boy, who is embarrassed by his mother's antics, rebels by drinking and smoking what he thinks is pot.
What's the story?
CALENDAR GIRLS is based on the true story of a British women's group, Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, which raised money for a local hospital by posing nude for a pin-up calendar. After member Annie (Julie Walters) loses her husband John to Leukemia, she and best friend Chris (Helen Mirren) convince the group to take action. Crafting a tasteful nude calendar with the help of young amateur photographer Lawrence (Philip Glenister), then women raise more than 500,000 pounds for a new leukemia unit.
Is it any good?
While the movie certainly plays up the obviously funny moments (the women's nervousness as they prepare to strip, for example), it also focuses on the evolving nature of the women's friendship as they share this experience together. There's so much for adults here--the performances by Helen Mirren as Chris and Julie Waters as Annie are both hilarious and inspiring, and the theme that older women are still beautiful made several movie-goers of a certain age stand up and cheer.
So what's in it for kids? Although teens may find the friendship theme appealing, there's not much else for them here. Certainly, the idea of women their mother or grandmother's age stripping down will horrify them--in fact, the character they're most likely to identify with is that of Chris's teen-age son, Jem, who finds his mother's own sexuality too much to handle. Chris's increased fame leads to Jem's drinking and attempts to smoke pot. When he is arrested, Chris is upset but so caught up in her own affairs that she never realizes that this is her son's way of getting her attention. It's only when her friend Annie suggests she "find out why" he got in trouble does Chris realize she hasn't been paying attention to him. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't fully develop this storyline--we never see Chris sit down and have a talk with her son about what she is doing and why she is doing it. We later hear of a conversation Chris's husband has with him in which he tells him not to be ashamed, but it would have been better if we had actually witnessed this talk. If you watch with your teen, you might want to discuss how Chris and her son could have handled this situation better.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about how the movie makes a distinction between nakedness and nudity, and the women argue that what they're doing is art, not pornography. Do you agree? What do the women learn from their experience? The women adopt the phrase "the last stage of flowers is the most glorious" as their mantra -- does our society reflect this sentiment in our treatment of older people? Finally, how does the group's sudden fame affect their friendships and family relationships?