The Hot Flashes Busts Out The Raunch But Falls Flat
Courtside trash talk is a whole 'nother game in The Hot Flashes. "I am going to rip those worn-out nipples right off of you," snarls Camryn Manheim to the woman who broke up her marriage, who is also her teammate. Later, Virginia Madsen winks, "Why buy the pig when all you need is a little sausage?" The raunchy, feminist-revenge jokes are the best part of this feel-good, you-go-ladies sports comedy about five menopausal women in suburban Texas who come together as a basketball team to fundraise for a mammography van. The red-state setting makes for some nicely observed gags—a churchy woman with a slideshow called "God Made Menopause" reassures her female audience that they all have an inner goddess within them, "a Judeo-Christian goddess," she quickly adds—and offers a more likable version of the one-tough-mama femininity that Sarah Palin sells. With the exception of Wanda Sykes, who plays prissier than usual as a black mayor running for reelection in a white-majority town, the actresses couldn't look less natural with a basketball if they were in Jimmy Choos. But Manheim, Madsen, and Sykes are easy to root for in their supporting roles, unlike Daryl Hannah, utterly miscast as an obviously closeted lesbian. But it's star Brooke Shields, yoked to a cheating husband (Eric Roberts) and a musty "my friends are my family" storyline, whose plodding performance brings the film down as ineluctably as gravity on the female body.
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