Mrs. Henderson Presents Reviews
The whole is not bad, yet lacking the bite the real story, a British story, of the impact, humanity and courage even prostitutes must've had during the wartime blitz. For a work purportedly celebrating those people, this film shies away from who those people were.
Dench is a marvel in this role and her interplay with Hoskins is simply fun to watch.
The film has some nice theatrical touches, and Frears keeps the reigns on the more maudilin aspects, walking the tightrope and managing to keep the script moving and for the most part upbeat, in spite of the underlying "secret" and the backdrop of the beginnings of WWII (this is a historical piece afterall).
There are some wonderful funny moments, for example, when Dench complains to her old biddy girlfriend that Hoskins is not paying the proper attention to her, the biddy tells Dench that she has to formulate a battle plan. She then goes on to mention that her late husband, the general, liked to attack from the rear, which while being a sound military tactic didn't do much for their love life.....
I found the secondary stories of the girls of the theatre a nice way of rounding the edges and giving the film more body, and enjoyed the speach by Dench in which she not only reveals why she bought the theatre to begin with, but thumbs her nose at the stiff British mores. We've sure come a long way since then in some respects, but perhaps have lost something along the way.
The only knock on it is that, while capturing a distinct historical moment fairly well, sometimes it is clear that the filmmaker, audience (and seemingly, the characters) know how the rest of the Second World War will unfold. Call it an undertone, I guess. It's a bit of a slow starter, but before you know it, Judi Dench has yet again reeled you in and shows that her Oscar nod was well-deserved. Watch this film.
The setting is London, during the World War II era. Dench plays the real-life title character, a wealthy widow who buys a derelict theater to give herself something to do. She hires a manager (Bob Hoskins) to put together a stage show, and they launch one of those aww-how-cute, bickering relationships. When the show threatens to fail, Mrs. Henderson has the daring idea to add nude girls. She meets bureaucratic resistance from one Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest, surprisingly), but they reach a compromise: the gals can be nude if they remain motionless in the manner of a classy painting or sculpture. From there, the show becomes a great success, especially once England enters the war and young soldiers are looking for nightly entertainment.
All of this works so far, and Frears manages the fine trick of blending witty songs into the action without dampening the story's momentum. But the focus is more on vintage hairstyles and costumes than character development, and the film eventually takes a jarring, abrupt turn from musical comedy into wartime drama. By the end, the sentiment has turned rather corny, and a climactic speech from Henderson is more likely to cause eyerolls than tears.
[font=Century Gothic]"Mrs. Henderson Presents" is an enjoyably funny movie. Dench(always great) and Hoskins(been too long since he has had such a good part) have wonderful chemistry together. The film is about how people should get involved; enjoy themselves and to not be prudish. The only flaws are that the movie goes out of its way to explain everything and it grandstands a little too much.[/font]