Design a site like this with
Get started

Wayback Wednesday: The First Wives Club (1996)

“I do have feelings! I’m an actress! I have ALL of them!”

William Shakespeare famously once wrote that “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, not hell a fury like a woman scorned.” There’s a reason why the Bard is regarded as the greatest writer of all time because if movies and television have taught us anything over the last 100 years, it’s that no statement rings more true. The trope of empowered women getting revenge on terrible men has always been a favourite of mine and The First Wives Club (1996) is a movie that pulls it off with intense satisfaction. It’s 2023. Isn’t it about time we had another movie about women banding together to get outlandish revenge on men? I think the last movie that we had similar to that was The Other Woman (2014) but the less said about that movie the better. 

Credit: / Paramount Pictures

Based on the novel of the same name by Olivia Goldsmith, The First Wives Club follows Brenda, Elise and Annie, a trio of women who all have had their husbands leave them for younger women. Seeking retribution, the women join forces to get even with their lecherous husbands and set to work ruining their finances and their love lives. 

From the first time I saw this movie I knew that I was guaranteed to love it. How could I not? In addition to the aforementioned revenge trope and the FABULOUS cast (oh, we’ll talk about them don’t you worry) director Hugh Wilson also helmed the lovable Blast from the Past (1999) and screenwriter Robert Harling also wrote the screenplay for two of my favourite movies, Steel Magnolias (1989) and Soapdish (1991). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. In the hands of this pair there was no way that The First Wives Club could turn out to be anything other than a fun and  enjoyable comedy that also manages to pack a satisfying emotional punch.

Wilson and Harling do an excellent job of hitting the comedic highs of the movie’s premise while also organically including enough sombre beats to remind you that for as much wackiness as there is in The First Wives Club there is also a baseline of reality. Just take Cynthia’s death for example. It happens in the blink of an eye but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. Ugh, and the crisis centre for women that the main characters establish in Cynthia’s honour in the end? I was practically in tears! The movie also could have easily included a sexy new love interest for one of the women as a subplot but thankfully there isn’t one. I think that would have been contradictory to the larger themes of the movie. 

It is mind boggling to me that a movie based off a semi-popular book made a staggering $181 million against a modest $26 million budget. That could only happen in 1996. With that kind of box office I’m surprised a sequel to The First Wives Club was never attempted. It would probably be terrible but I’m still surprised nonetheless. I’m not surprised that the movie made so much because when you combine the star power of three fantastic leading ladies like Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, there’s no way people won’t turn out in droves to see that show. Look, I have a laundry list of of women I consider “bitch goddesses” AKA fabulous, funny, fierce women who I fucking love and admire, and put them on an island together. Including Dolly Parton, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Catherine O’Hara, Whoopi Goldberg, etc…The cast of The First Wives Club is basically Bitch Goddess Island personified. Not just the trio of stars, but the supporting cast as well! Marcia Gay Harden, Stockard Channing, Sarah Jessica Parker, Maggie Smith…FABULOUS! All of the supporting characters play their parts wonderfully and are just as much fun to watch as the stars. By the way, I think it’s hilarious that in the movie Midler loses her husband to Parker after the two played sisters in Hocus Pocus (1993). Check out my review for that movie, here

Midler, Hawn and Keaton all shine separately but it’s in their scenes together that magic is made. Their chemistry, one -liners and general charisma are the main reason to watch The First Wives Club. What I love is that each brings their own unique trait to their characters. Midler is brassy and theatrical, Keaton is mousy and neurotic (she always seems to play a thinly veiled imitation of herself) and Hawn is outrageously out there. Seems Like Old Times (1980) – check out my review, hereDeath Becomes Her (1992), Overboard (1987), even Snatched (2017)…I have enjoyed Goldie Hawn in every movie I’ve seen her in. Partly I think because she chooses funny movies that offer her the opportunity to go all out with the physical comedy, something she’s very gifted at. She’s not afraid to commit to the bit and be or look outrageous. She’s the undisputed scene stealer of The First Wives Club.

I really enjoy The First Wives Club but I will say that I could have used more shenanigans involved at getting revenge on the men. Until the very end the movie can at times be considerably light on plot and I think an extra helping or two of wacky antics would take this movie to a whole other level for me. You know, a couple extra scenes of ruining the lives of men after which the women kick back and toast each other with champagne. I mean, is that too much to ask for?

Everything about the premise of this movie and the actors involved is catnip to me so I want to see them utilized to their greatest extent. Ok, this is going to be shocking but I’m just going to say it: I would actually be okay with a decades later sequel to The First Wives Club. I know! I usually hate unnecessary sequels but I feel like with the proper screenwriter attached and the reunion of Midler, Hawn and Keaton, a sequel set in the present day could actually work! If you’re a fan of this movie (I’m speaking to you, Ariana Grande) than you know exactly why it could work. 

Silly, empowering and delivering an ending that manages to be heartwarming, gratifying and incredibly iconic, The First Wives Club is a great choice the next time you’re having a movie night with your girls. Oh! You know what would be fabulous? Watching this in a double viewing with 9 to 5 (1980)! By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. I need to make that movie night happen. THAT would be a movie night capable of smashing the patriarchy!

Have you seen The First Wives Club?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close