The First Wives Club

Rated PG

This is a rare comedy suitable for the whole family. Though many of the situations may be over the heads of young children, there are still enough gags and slapstick here that even little kids will laugh along much of the time, and there's virtually no offensive language, violence, sex, or nudity. The average Goldie Hawn talk show interview—where she goes on about how much she and her common-law husband Curt Russell love sex and want their children to know it—is in way left field compared to anything on the screen here.

Diane Keaton, Bette Middler, and Goldie Hawn in a slapstick momentHawn costars with Bette Middler and Diane Keaton as three members of a quartet of college friends who've all been dumped by their husbands for younger women. The fourth member of the quartet, Stockard Channing in a cameo almost too brief to give time to recognize her, is the first wife to be dumped and she takes the quick way out by diving from the balcony of her 20th -floor flat. But when the other three get together for a lunch and cocktail hour that lasts past closing time after their friend's funeral, they decide that they're not going to take the easy (on their husbands) way out. Instead, they're going to get revenge.

Shades of Lucy and Ethel, my companion at the screening pointed out, as they come up with engenious plots to foil their husbands' aspirations. One plot even works so well that the husband sees the error of his way, repents, and is reconciled to his first wife. But I'll omit their names to let you have the fun of guessing which.

Jay Leno has compared the three women in their often raucous comedy to the Three Stooges. I wouldn't have enjoyed it had it been that over-the-edge. It's more like the previous hilarious comedy with Bette Middler, Ruthless People. This is the fun one for fall.

Photo by the film's distributor

1997, Jon Kennedy