The all-star cast did not move me. What could they do with a poorly-written script, stereotypical characters, predictable plot, and frantic pacing? The actresses were all "acting" as if on theater, pushing their characters to the limit, and ending up looking like they were desperately trying to prove a point, that women stand up for each other, or at least should do so.
It could have been handled better, and I say this with additional disappointment, for this was an all-woman cast and crew (almost), and I was rooting for them to show the world the great stuff that women could churn out.
The relationship between the four main characters could have made more sense if the audience could see why they were friends in the first place. There was no chemistry and it looked too forced to me, as if they were trying so hard to "be their character" that they forgot how to loosen up and just let the "great friendship" flow aroud them.
BFFs Mary (Meg Ryan) and Sylvie (Annette Bening) had to constantly remind each other that they were "best friends", when in real life this just happens to women, and this could have been better depicted by looks and actions between the two. The supportive friends were just secondary characters whose main goal in the movie was "to be there" for Mary, even if it meant sacrificing their relationships and careers. Who made Mary the center of the universe?
Debra Messing looked as if she was channeling Dharma of Dharma and Greg. Jada Pinkett Smith had the most interesting character to portray, but alas, she was not given a meatier script. She had to act as if on a teaching video of "How a Lesbian Should React in Each and Every Situation She and Her Heterosexual Friends Are Confronted With". Talk about putting people into boxes.
The confrontation between Mary and The Other Woman should have crackled with sarcasm and oozed with pain. Instead I was just frustrated at Mary and irritated at Crystal (Eva Mendes). It was unrealistic and unbelievable, even under the excuse that Mary was prohibited by her "smart mother" from confronting her husband Stephen and The Other Woman, and Crystal was a hopeless gold digger with no morals. I blame the script and the direction.
Mary's behavior did not satisfy me. It was as if she was in a long movie commercial of "How a Woman With a Philandering Husband Should Respond". I would have wanted a more realistic, grounded take on one of the most common problems for women. It seemed too smooth and too easy. Meg Ryan tended to smile too much and laugh as if her world was not falling apart. Maybe that was the point of the movie, but again, they could have shown it more convincingly.
There was definitely something missing and a whole lot of talking (my father could not last fifteen minutes of the film) that it got too noisy for me during some scenes. Perhaps the people behind it were too happy that they got the rights to the remake and they had all those beautiful and famous actresses to play their boxed characters that they did not bother to look at the details and nuances that women were expecting to be entertained with. Annette, one of my favorite actresses, gave the most textured performance of them all, but even she could not salvage a movie this predictable.
The First Wives Club handled the topic of male infidelity better - it was humorous and at the same time staggering to watch. Or that scene when Emma Thompson held back sobs so her children would not hear her heart breaking from Love, Actually - that really moved me to tears. Even Sex and the City (which was more about Love rather than Sex, to my delight) was five stars better at showing women power, although the budget for wardrobe and accessories there was almost criminal and resulted in corrupting women everywhere to "lust" after goods and to look fabulous at fifty, "the new forty".
Maybe I'm growing older and pickier, but this movie simply did not do it for me. It was just one long Dove commercial and an utter waste of talent.