The Women Reviews
Otherwise, many of the characters and complex plot points were completely changed, for the better. Sylvia Fowler (Bening) is no longer a chatty gossip with a penchant for ruining lives. Now she is the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, completely single and loving it, and motivated by ambition rather than petty jealousy. Debra Messing's character seems to be an amalgamation, who represents motherhood, fertility, and the complexities of the American family. Jada Pinkett Smith's character is also a blend of characters, a welcome change as she is also a strong lesbian character, which was only hinted at in the original.
Of course, the Reno angle was scrapped, as we live in a world where divorces can be much simpler and reasonable. Instead of plotting and planning her imminent reconciliation with her husband, Mary changes herself and becomes a stronger and more thoughtful designer and mother. This is much better in comparison, because the film is no longer geared at the idea of having a man, getting a man, losing a man, or missing a man. Instead it is a film about how women can thrive and move forward, and the importance of female friendships. Of course, the problem with this change is that we have seen it before. (Sex and the City, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Other Woman etc.) There's nothing new about the narrative of woman can do bad all by herself. Without the original's biting wit, sophistication, or the idea that cattiness and tearing down other women gets you what you want, this doesn't work. It's simply gimmicky and stale.
It's understandable that English would try and remove the grotesquely backward thinking of the original and create a unique and thoughtful adaptation that would celebrate women instead of canonize men. A better way to accomplish this is to keep the gimmick but completely change the story. An even better accomplishment would be to create a woman driven story without drawing attention to the fact that she's a woman, which is what Murphy Brown did when it premiered twenty years before this film was released. As much as I would like to tout this film as a decent feminist adaptation of a work in the male gaze, I can't.
Nevertheless, I love this movie. I haven't seen the original, but it seems all of you were expecting to see the same movie. However, I guess lax chick flicks like this don't get the highest ratings ever. If you're looking for an Oscar nom or a 1930's remake, this isn't for you. If you're looking for a film about real successful women and situations for a chill night, I recommend this!
That last motivation for the ostensible villain is admittedly weak, but the rest of the movie isn't so much rah-rah woman-power, but just woman-life without posturing, cattiness, or easy choices.