The true story of a group of dynamic women who bare all--or nearly all--for charity and become international celebrities as a result. The Women's Institute in Great Britain encourages the ancient skills of jam-making, flower pressing, knitting and baking. So when a group of extraordinary women start looking for a new way to raise money, they decide to take the annual W.I. calendar, which normally features landscapes or flowers, and instead create something traditional--with a non-conventional twist. Behind the baked goods, the apple pressing and the flower arranging, the women are completely nude.
This is yet another professionally acted and staged wry-crisp comedy about British modesty — this one could be called "How Full Was My Monty" — that gets its laughs, but seems increasingly out of date. Chris (Helen Mirren) and Annie (Julie Walters) are middle-aged members of the Knapely chapter of the Women's Institute, an organization dedicated to promoting the ideals of "fun and friendship." Chris, spotting a girlie calendar at her auto mechanic's garage, is inspired with the notion of posing nude for a calendar to raise money for charity. She finds a surprisingly large number of middle-aged to elderly recruits at the Institute. Ms. Mirren and Ms. Walters are a sunny, amusing couple, even when there's tension between them because Chris has so immersed herself in her new project that she's ignoring her son and husband. The most likable aspect of the film is the husbands left on the sidelines, and the team behind "Calendar Girls" is savvy enough not to overplay that role reversal. But when the biggest compliment you can give a picture is that it's professional and not smug, there's a little some thing missing — like invention. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-12-19 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Calendar Girls