Damsels in Distress

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2

Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Carrie MacLemore, Adam Brody, Hugo Becker, Ryan Metcalf, Billy Magnussen. Comedy/drama. Written & directed by Whit Stillman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A trio of beautiful girls sets out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university - the dynamic leader Violet Wister, principled Rose and sexy Heather. They welcome transfer student Lily into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed fellow students with a program of good hygiene, musical dance numbers – and donuts. Of course, they don’t really have a clue…

PREVIEW REVIEW: Doing comedy, or satire, or parody, or amusing social commentary must be the most difficult of the film genres for moviemakers. Even if you have cast well and have witty dialogue, still everything depends upon timing. Well, the ladies here are fine actresses and they know their way around a comic gag, but the timing is off. What’s more, by the middle of the film, you’re asking, “What’s this about?” The question is never truly answered. I think the film wants to be Clueless Goes To College, but the writers have based their story upon the fact that these folks, every single one of them, are dumber than a bagful of bricks. (One college guy doesn’t know his colors. One guy doesn’t know that he has blue eyes.) There is no voice of reason, no lesson comprehended and the narrative is somewhat senseless.

Writer/director Whit Stillman is a fine filmmaker (Metropolitan, Barcelona) who channels P.G. Wodehouse when looking at the sophisticated world of privileged dunderheads. But while it tries to be a smart movie, Damsels in Distress is based on an absurd reality that would fit better in a era long past, when male students wore straw hats and girls had to smoke cigarettes far from prying eyes.

Now, I’m a fan of droll, deadpan humor (I’m reading Wodehouse’s Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves), and there are other reviewers who are connecting with Stillman’s wry college farce, but sadly, I’m not one of them. Though I smiled a couple of times, overall I was bored with the hollow view of collegiate life.

DVD Alternative: Emma. Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this period romance about a self-assured young woman who turns matchmaker for her little English village. Although a most likable Cupid, she is often off the mark. The teen comedy Clueless was inspired from this Jane Austen novel. Not quite in the league with Sense and Sensibility, but all of a sudden, about halfway through, I was hooked. Beautiful to look at, amusing to listen to, and oh, yeah, nothing explodes! PG (I found nothing objectionable - no off-color language, no sexual situations, no violence).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Westerly Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A couple of suggestive sexual remarks.

Obscene Language: A few minor expletives and the “b” word refereeing to females is uttered three or four times.

Profanity: The expression “Oh my God” is uttered frequently, as often as 25 times, but I caught no other language hat could be considered profane.

Violence: None

Sex: There are several sexual discussions that boarder on the bawdy, and it is implied that a couple are having sex, but it isn’t shown.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: There’s a great deal of drinking by college students.

Other: Anti-Catholic statement

Running Time: 99 minutes
Intended Audience: College students and older

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