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Mrs. Henderson Presents

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: C-
Video/Audio/Extras: A-/B+/D

Directed by: Stephen Frears
Written by: Martin Sherman
Produced by: Norma Heyman
Starring: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Guest, Will Young, Kelly Reilly
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Skip it

In my last DVD review, I commented on something deadly wrong with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voting system regarding the Golden Globe category for Best Comedy/Musical. In this review, I shall comment on what is wrong with the MPAA voting system for film classifications. Pretty much everyone and their Uncle Ted remembers the main reason for Twister getting a PG-13 rating ("intense depiction of very bad weather"). Their opinions on what minors should see or not see is rather strange, indeed. You can have a lot of violence and fight scenes, but here's comes the "R" if somebody says a couple of four-letter words. Oh and if you don't want the dreaded "NC-17", don't even think about putting some nudity in there. Mrs. Henderson Presents managed to get an "R" rating, but it sort of defeats the film's message that nudity is part of nature and should be cherished. A "PG-13" would have been better, but too bad the film isn't very good.

After her husband dies, Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) is now a window, but quickly gets bored of that life. She decides to open a theatre andseeks the help of maverick producer Vivian Van Damme (Bob Hoskins). They revive vaudeville in London and their show becomes a hit and unfortunately every other theatre copies it and everybody goes elsewhere. Mrs Henderson finally suggests that the girls strip, but due to laws they aren't allowed to move. The theatre's costumers return just as the Second World War begins. However, the show must go on.

I have really enjoyed the previous work of Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins and the prospect of these two classic Shakespearean actors appearing on film together really excited me. Unfortunately, the film is dull and drab as are their performances. It's an interesting story, but screenwriter Martin Sherman and the two stars don't take full advantage of it. Even Christopher Guest fails to make Mrs. Henderson Presents by putting on a British accent and making you forget that he's American. The musical numbers also fail to be fun, although there is one that parodies the war that would make Mel Brooks proud. I also have to commend director Stephen Frears, who is one of those directors who is able to do justice to the female body. Watch the infamous Uma Thurman nude scene in Dangerous Liaisons as more proof of this. Nonetheless, the film is dull and fails to be a worthwhile experience.

I don't know if the Weinstein Company also noticed the blandness of Mrs. Henderson Presents, but they sure didn't load up the film with much interesting special features. Stephen Frears provides a feature-length commentary that is dull much like the film he directed. There are many silent gaps and when he does chime, it's not entirely interesting. The photo gallery just provides movie stills and there is also the theatrical trailer which make the film seem more fun than it actually is. The best extra is a documentary on the making of the film. They look at the history of the projects, casting as well as shooting the scenes. The extras get a very low "D." With a bad film and only one worthwhile extra, I suggest that this disc is not worth checking out.

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