The First Wives Club (1996) starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Stephen Collins, Elizabeth Berkley, Marcia Gay Harden, Bronson Pinchot directed by Hugh Wilson Movie Review

The First Wives Club (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton in The First Wives Club

Revenge of the Ex Wives

"The First Wives Club" wants to be is a satire about 3 friends who help each other get revenge on their ex husbands. What the "The First Wives Club" is, is a dull unfunny movie that wastes not only the potential to be funny but the talents of Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. Maybe I am not the sort of person that "The First Wives Club" appears to be made for, I'm not an ex wife who has been traded in for a newer model, but even so I can't see that the comedy it tries to get from the situation even appealing to those in that situation. As such here is little about the movie which works and there is plenty which doesn't and if it wasn't for the fact that the trio of great comedic actresses manage to deliver a handful of amusing scenes "The First Wives Club" would have been completely terrible rather than just being dull.

Following the death of their friend Cynthia (Stockard Channing), Brenda, Elise and Annie (Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn & Diane Keaton) are reunited at her funeral and discover that whilst they've not been together since they graduated they still have a lot in common. One of those things is that they all have been left by their husbands for newer younger models having spent years supporting them. Still feeling the pain of this betrayal they group together and plot their revenge on each of their ex husbands so they can hit them where it hurts, in their wallets.

Diane Keaton and Bette Midler in The First Wives Club

You can sum up the storyline to "The First Wives Club" very easily, 3 college friends reunite and seek revenge on their ex husbands. There is a bit more to it than that and along the way it attempts to cover growing old and accepting you're no longer young as well as embracing the modern world as it brings in a lesbian daughter but these are really just moments, not even sub plots, to the main storyline of divorced women getting revenge. Okay so it does transform itself from being about revenge into something more worthwhile but all that really means is we get a sickly sweet ending as this trio of women do something useful having twisted their ex husbands nuts for money.

But the thing is that none of this has any depth despite having the potential to be a biting satire on divorced women getting even. And it is seriously disappointing as rather than being a movie of clever scenes where these women get their revenge it all becomes overly messy. In fact the whole getting revenge thing ends up like something out of the keystone cops as we get supposedly funny scenes where the trio of women try to dig the dirt on their ex's and end up in a slapstick style mess such as the escape from one husbands office using the window cleaning lift. None of it and I do mean none of it is in the least bit clever, preferring to make you laugh by being almost stupid and sadly none of it is really funny. Even the attempt to make a point about older women trying to look young with Goldie Hawn's character getting her lips pumped up into a trout pout is more painful than comical.

All of which is annoying as whilst Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn manage to find a few laughs it all seems rather dull. And it has to be said it almost feels venomous as these women try to get revenge on their ex husbands without really finding the comedy of it. It's almost frustrating because the potential to be biting and funny is there, especially as each of the ex husbands have basically got new, younger partners but that potential never gets explored leaving "The First Wives Club" to languish about in lame comedy which lacks that killer instinct.

The saving grace is that whilst what they have to work with isn't that great Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn manage to deliver some laughs. It maybe painfully unfunny to watch Goldie Hawn with a trout pout or for Bette Midler to go over the top as a Jewish mother but in some of the revenge scenes they do actually make you laugh. And to be honest this trio of actresses are the best thing as whilst the cast also features Sarah Jessica Parker, Maggie Smith and Elizabeth Berkley amongst other recognizable faces they all are rather unmemorable, which frankly isn't a bad thing.

What this all boils down to is that "The First Wives Club" ends up both a disappointing and dull comedy. The idea of three ex wives getting revenge had the potential for some great biting satire but what is delivered is for the most lame and unmemorable, except for some of the most cringe worthy, saccharine moments. Its saving grace is that whilst what they have to work with isn't great Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn manage to deliver a few laughs.