This weekend I subjected myself to The Women, a remake of a 1930s film of the same title (which I am never ever going to see) about the trivial trials and tribulations of a bunch of girly friends. I was seduced by the current film’s star-studded, all-female cast: Meg Ryan (who I haven’t seen on a screen in, like, a kajillion years), Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen and Bette Midler. But I really bought my ticket to popcorn-munch to fine-ass Jada Pinkett-Smith playing Meg’s chic black lesbian buddy. Cuz how often do you get to see a dyke of color on the big screen? The last mainstreamish movie I saw with brown-skinned queers was Spike Lee’s highly problematic She Hate Me. (And I almost do hate you, Spike. I really almost do).
Anyway, what a waste of my movie matinee admission fee! I will never get those two hours back and, frankly, I am bitter. The Women was ― albeit predictably ― disappointing and trite. I didn’t laugh once. Not internally and certainly not out loud. It was supposed to be a comedy, but it sucked. Here’s the tired plot: An insanely wealthy, wishy-washy white woman finds out that her Wall Street exec husband of 13 years is cheating on her. She slowly spirals into near-depression while her fun friends helplessly look on. Are you yawning yet? There were one-liners galore, but none of them were memorable. There were beautifully shot kitchens and opulent offices and fashion runways and manicured Connecticut backyards, but do you care? I don’t care. No one cares. The movie had no substance.
Jada plays Alex Fisher, a New York Times-lauded writer with a supposed penchant for pussy. But, consumed with her whiney friend’s hetero-melodrama, she never gets a love scene. She does bring the cranky anorexic supermodel she’s banging (off-screen) to a charity luncheon, but quickly ditches her to gossip with the straight girls. She loudly admits that Eva Mendes is hot, but you saw that in the preview. Jada did her best with the sassy homegirl lines, but her sidekicking character was underdeveloped. I’m all for interracial friendships (after all, I live in Northampton), but I kept wondering why a hip, New York-based artist would even bother with these boring, self-involved, bridge club-attending, Saks Fifth Avenue-obsessed people. I mean, New York is a big, diverse city! Take the subway to Cattyshack for God’s sake! As played by wife of Will, Alex Fisher seemed completely comfortable being the token in every room. We learn nothing of this character’s family, her other lovers, her struggles, her aspirations or her fears. Is her queer sexuality politicized? Are these rich fools subsidizing her art? What the heck does she even write about? We will never know.
In an interview with BlackVoices.com, Jada confesses, “I know lots of lesbians. I think there is a lesbian inside of me that I just pulled out.” Alas, the lesbian inside of me simply wasn’t moved. I’m sick of these chick flicks a la Sex and the City with their entitled blonde leads and their preoccupation with Prada. I want another Fox Fire. I want another Set It Off (which Jada was brilliant in). I think I’m going to write my own all-female ensemble script but, in the meantime, I need to do some research. If you have any suggestions for strong, women-centered friendship dramas, please list them below.