The First Wives Club - *

This revenge comedy starts well, but wanders off track and never returns. The First Wives Club focuses on three divorced women: Annie (Diane Keaton) is a struggling housewife with an overbearing mother and a lesbian daughter. She is only “separated” from her husband, Aaron (Stephen Collins), but her friends know better. Brenda (Bette Midler) is a penniless single mother whose ex, Morty (Dan Hedaya), was the owner of a chain of successful electronics stores. Brenda helped Morty establish the business, then Morty dumped her for the young and beautiful Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker). Elise (Goldie Hawn) is an actress whose best years are behind her. Her ex-husband and ex-producer, Bill (Victor Garber), is now doting on Phoebe (Elizabeth Berkley), a young actress he is grooming for the prime parts Elise used to get. The three women were friends in college, but have lost touch…until they hear the news that a fourth common friend killed herself when her husband left her. The three bitter and resentful women band together and plot revenge. This material could have made a wonderful dark comedy…unfortunately, The First Wives Club squanders its material. The film goes to some rather implausible lengths to set up its tale of the three spurned ex-wives, but then fails to deliver on the payoff. The revenge these three women wreak turns out to be rather puny and mundane. As long as they were in the realm of implausiblity, they should have stayed there and gotten some laughs for their efforts. As it goes, there are a couple of humorous bits here and there, mostly in building the various characters. But then, the humor dries up. Rather than focus on the revenge at hand, the trio begin to bicker and traces of drama begin to unsuccessfully emerge. When the film tries to get back on the comedy track, it does so only half-heartedly. If the film didn’t take itself as seriously, it definitely would have helped. This film might evoke the sympathies of bitter ex-wives, but unfortunately, it’s not for anyone else.

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