My septuagenarian mom called me up after she and her friends went to see “Queen Bees,” and I think our conversation would make the ideal movie review.
“We loved the movie, especially seeing so many old Hollywood actors. It made us laugh and cry all the way through. All of us agree that’s exactly the kind of place we want to live when it’s time to go to a retirement home!“
Yes, when this film finds its audience, it’s going to please the entire crowd. Never mind that the film has choppy production values, plays like a paid advertisement for retirement communities, and is so sweet that you may get diabetes from the script. It’s destined to be beloved by most over the age of 65 simply because it’s a movie about them, for them, and one to which they can relate.
While her home undergoes repairs after a kitchen accident, Helen (Ellen Burstyn) must temporarily move into a nearby retirement community. She is independent and not keen on living somewhere other than her own house, fighting her daughter (Elizabeth Mitchell) every step of the way. But when it’s clear that her other options are exhausted, Helen reluctantly moves into the community. Once she’s settled in, Helen has a run-in with a group of resident bullies who rule the roost (Jane Curtin, Ann-Margret and Loretta Devine), and develops a relationship with eligible bachelor Dan (James Caan), who may be hiding secrets of his own.
It’s “Mean Girls” meets “The Golden Girls,” with a little bit of comedy, drama, and romance in the mix. There’s an abundance of cute senior citizen humor and tame jokes that give the movie a predictable but endearing sweetness. The script is simple, and the themes trotted out are the same that appear in just about every movie for the gray-haired set.
It’s the delightful performances that make “Queen Bees” stand out from the rest. Curtain is terrific as the surliest of the clique, furnishing each line of dialogue with her trademark acerbic delivery. Devine is the kindhearted best buddy we all hope to have, and it’s impossible not to fall for Margaret’s “she’s-still-got-it” movie star magnetism. The real heart and soul of the film is Burstyn, who provides the ideal anchor for this charming story of friendship, love, and forgiveness.