THE HOT FLASHES

the_0301_4244.jpgDirector Susan Seidelman creates a crowd-pleaser anchored by Brooke Shields as a woman who gathers her gal pals together to raise money for a mobile mammography van. “Beth” saves herself by doing good for her community, & even someone as dumb about basketball as I am can still feel the excitement of the win.  (JLH: 3.5/5)

Click HERE for our FF2 haiku. Not yet seen by Rich.

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My Dad wasn’t into sports. Except for a bit of weekend swimming (in the summer) or bowling (in the winter), the man I had loved so fiercely for the first 39 years of my life (and whose memory I treasure now) spent his downtime reading and taking long walks. At home, my Dad mostly watched news programs and Westerns. When he wanted to get out, my Dad took me to see big historical epics like Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus. (My Mom never came with us, and since they separated when I was 12, whatever they may have watched together quickly became a moot point for me.)

So it took me a long time to understand the psychological appeal of sports, and of course, most of what I know about sports, I have learned at the movies. In the real world, at the end of every game there is a winner and there is a loser, and then more games to watch as soon as the one you are watching is over. In the movie world, since there are no “other games to watch,” success rests on the shoulders of the lead character. The audience must really, really want that person to win.

Director Susan Seidelman’s new film The Hot Flashes plays by all the rules of a sports film, invoking time-tested tropes one by one, until at the end, a thunderous crowd surrounds two teams facing off on a basketball court. With only seconds left to play, we watch the ball circle the rim with our hearts in our throats, and when it falls through the hoop, we’re thrilled. Hooray!

Chalk one up for Brooke Shields as “Beth Humphrey,” a woman from a small Texas town who must decide if menopause is the beginning of the end or the start of something new. Beth lives in a comfortable house with her handsome husband “Laurence” (Eric Roberts) and their teenage daughter “Jocelyn” (Charlotte Graham). The Humphreys are a sports obsessed family. Whenever he is home, Laurence, beer in hand, is always watching some game or another on TV. And when they are out together, it’s often to cheer for Jocelyn, who plays on her high school basketball team.

On the surface everything seems fine. Beth knows she is having hot flashes, so she assumes she is also having mood swings. Therefore whatever feels wrong must be her fault, and Laurence, who is oh so supportive, plays along. Then Beth learns about something big that really is her fault. Before a friend died of breast cancer, she asked Beth to file paperwork donating her assets to a mobile mammography van. But Beth got lazy and forgot to file an extension, so the mobile mammography van has run out of funds. Beth has not only violated her friend’s trust, she has made all the women in her whole community vulnerable.

What now? Beth has a brainstorm: assemble her buddies (Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim and Wanda Sykes) and raise money by playing a set of exhibition games against her daughter’s team! Yes, it sounds preposterous but it’s actually a stroke of genius, not just for Beth and her town, but for Seidelman (best known as the director of the beloved classic Desperately Seeking Susan) and her screenwriter Brad Hennig. By combining the chick flick tropes with the sports movie tropes, they have created a frothy summer confection for everyone, and even someone as dumb about basketball as I am can still feel the excitement of the win.

Ladies, the timing is so right!

The mainstream media is catching on to women’s “power of the purse” at the box office this summer. As I write, the new Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy film The Heat is poised on the edge of the $100 million dollar mark at the box office. When it goes over, as it most certainly will this weekend, The Heat will officially become one of the most profitable films of 2013 to date.

(Consider: The Heat was made for $43 million, and has already grossed over $86 million. White House Down, released the same weekend as The Heat, was made for $150 million, but has only grossed $50.5 million to date. Special effects laden “macho treats” are incredibly expensive, so with audience support, a chick flick can actually have a higher “Return on Investment” than a macho treat which makes millions of dollars by still ends up with a negative ROI.) 13July09ProfitsBOM

Like The Heat, The Hot Flashes has all the elements: a charismatic heroine with great back-up, bonding scenes with a lot of physical and verbal comedy, and a big heart that celebrates female friendship, especially when the chips are down.

Add to that the fact that women everywhere are outraged by draconian budget cuts which specifically target health services for women. Many of us thought we were doing good by buying stuff with pink ribbons copyrighted by the Komen Foundation, but when the Komen Foundation turned on Planned Parenthood (one of the major sources of low cost health services—including mammograms—for women), women everywhere turned off the Komen Foundation.

Ladies: Whatever our politics, going to see The Hot Flashes this summer is one way to own our pink 🙂

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NOTE: The Hot Flashes, currently in limited release, is playing in Atlanta, Ga; Dallas, Tx; Delray Beach, Fl; Denver, Co; Los Angeles, Ca; Oklahoma City, Ok; Phoenix, Az; San Francisco, Ca; San Jose, Ca & Washington, D.C. Click HERE for designated theatres in each location.

If audiences in these cities support The Hot Flashes, then the number of theatres showing The Hot Flashes will expand nationwide and more people will have a chance to see it. This time it really is up to us, so let’s all generate some “Word of Mouth” buzz!

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Top Photo: Brooke Shields as “Beth Humphrey.”

Bottom Photo: Shields with Wanda Sykes & Daryl Hannah plus 4 of the players on the high school team (the Armadillas).

Photo Credits: Michele K. Short

Chart based on data posted by Box Office Mojo.

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