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The First Wives Club (1996)

Dont get mad. Get everything.

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG


‘The First Wives Club’ should be a decent enough movie. It’s got a relevant point to make about the curse of ageism in society. It’s got a plot involving three women scorned getting their own back on their weaselly cheating hubbies. It’s got a great cast (Hawn, Midler, and that other woman). Really, when you think about it, it should work. I’m not saying it’s a formula worthy of scooping a trolley-load of Oscars – just that it should work. But it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t even come close.

It starts with our three heroines coming together for the first time in yonks, thanks to the funeral of a mutual friend. There’s Brenda (Bette Midler), a 40-something woman whose other half has left her for a younger model; Elise (Goldie Hawn), a 40-something woman whose other half has left her for a younger model; and Annie (Diane Keaton) who – you’ve guessed it – is a 40-something woman whose other half has left her for a younger model.

In case you think they all sound a bit TOO similar though, fear not, because they each have their own individual character traits too. Hawn’s character, for example, is an actress, so she sports a set of lips so massive they’d make Jackie Stallone stare and point. Keaton’s playing the frump, so she wears a pair of those “high-waister” trousers designed for the over-70s. And Midler? Well, she’s Midler, so she shouts a lot.

Before long the three of them have decided to make the male rotters in their lives pay by forming the club of the title – although, with only three members, it’s not really much of a “club”. Even the Nazi Party has more subscribers than that, and that’s after all the bad press. Anyway, to get back to the subject, they adopt the mantra of “justice, not revenge” – but, judging by the pretty tame events that follow, all-out revenge would have been considerably more entertaining.

The main problem (although it’s by no means the only one) with ‘The First Wives Club’ is that, in order for it to work properly, you really need to empathise with these three crones on at least some basic level. And, while I’m not advocating extra-marital nookie in any way and certainly don’t have any objection to seeing love-rat menfolk getting their just desserts, this trio’s constant shrieking, whining and yelping makes it impossible to like them in even the most miniscule way. By the time it reaches its deeply cringe-worthy sing-a-long ending, the whole thing has become nothing more than a major irritation – a waste of an idea, a waste of a cast and, most damningly of all, a waste of any viewer’s time.

It's Got: ‘Sisters Doin’ It For Themselves’ on the soundtrack – predictably enough.

It Needs: The volume control readily to hand for the bulk of Midler’s scenes.

DVD Extras There’s just a trailer here. Version reviewed: The First Wives Club DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


After a hundred minutes of this, you’ll know exactly why their hubbies couldn’t stand to be with them any longer.