There were five guys in the theater when I saw The Divine
Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. The others were all middle-aged
roly-poly bearded guys, the kind who creep women out if they tell
them what they really like, so they think that pretending to be
all sensitive and caring is the way to get laid. Fucking morons.
There is no way to get laid after this movie that doesn't include
$100 and a trip to West Colfax. If you're honest and tell your girl
you hated it, she'll think you're an insensitive dick. If you tell
her you loved it you won't get near her furry treasures any faster
because she'll figure you're gay or more interested in crochet than
crotch. She'll invite you to join her book club, but not to her
bedroom. She won't be thinking, "This guy is so sweet and sensitive
that I want to bone him until he's shooting blanks and vomiting."
The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is for women
who spend their lives looking for surrogates for significance
from the Franklin Mint. They're the ladies who think empowerment
comes from Oprah Magazine, Beanie Baby collections and soft, fat,
harmless men with accents who can cook. They think a shirtless
Fabio is sex, and that actual screwing is too messy and smells
funny. They don't allow unhappiness into their lives because there's
no room left in their curio cabinets. They try to believe in words
like "closure" and "nurturing" and that the
diet in the latest Good Housekeeping really will change their
lives if it helps keep reality at arm's length.
It's a fraud, another shovelful from Oprah's corporate ass.
It trades on phony women-empowerment shit that does nothing to
empower women but a hell of a lot to empower the makers' bank
accounts. The makers don't believe in these lies, but they assume
audiences are stupid enough to eat them like handfuls of valium.
It's all the more depressing because it was directed by a woman
who actually once had a grasp on strong women, Callie Khouri,
the author of Thelma and Louise. Now she's become a needy
Sandra Bullock is Sidda, a famous playwright who mines her
"terrible" childhood for profundities. In an interview
with "Time" magazine she badmouths her boozy, self-absorbed
Southern mother Vivi (Ellen Burstyn). When Mom finds out, she
ex-communicates her daughter, leading to what I assume was supposed
to be a humorous exchange of (very prominently displayed) UPS
Next-Day envelopes full of cut-up photos and altered wills.
Burstyn has three lifelong friends (Maggie Smith, Fionnula
Flanagan and Shirley Knight) with whom she created the "secret"
Ya Ya Sisterhood as a child. We see the formation of the Sisterhood
at the movie's godawful beginning where four young girls act nothing
like real girls do as they jump up and down and scream "Ya
ya!" It's supposed to inspire grown women to adopt "Ya
ya!" as their war cry. Yeah, ladies, acting like jackasses
will surely crack the glass ceiling.
Burstyn's friends have nothing better to do than fly to New
York, drug and kidnap Bullock and drag her back to Louisiana to
make up with her mom. It should be noted that every single woman
in this movie is on the verge of a raging, shrieking nervous breakdown.
That's supposed to make them lovable. The movie's men are sweet,
sexless types who just looooove women for being so fucking fragile.
They just adore tiptoeing around and shaking their heads when
the broads shatter glass with their banshee wails. In the real
world, men find this behavior less attractive than prostate cancer.
We already know how it ends, of course. WARNING: If you're
a total fucking retard or have trouble guessing how long-distance
telephone commercials will end do not read on because it will
blow your mind that Bullock and Burstyn make up and Bullock joins
the Ya Ya Sisterhood in a precious scene where the old farts act
just like they did as kids, including wearing silly hats. Ain't
that just about as cute as a Hummel?
When Smith, Flanagan and Knight aren't cackling and screeching
over the last bits of chicken scratch on the floor of the coop,
they make the mopey, unpleasant Bullock look at an old photo album.
Each picture spurs the women to reminisce about Bullock's mother
and flashback to the gauzy past starring Ashley Judd as the mother.
The harpies screech and cackle over a past that really isn't
interesting enough for anyone but them, stopping occasionally
to display their squirrelly Southern accents. The movie flops
from present to past and pleasant to sterilized tragedy like a
beached trout. It's predictable comedy, then tearjerking and back.
We learn that Burstyn/Judd wasn't always this high-strung, overly
dramatic, self-centered woman about to crack. You see, she once
actually did crack. We're treated to uncomfortable melodrama like
her beating her kids with a belt on the lawn (where was the powerful
music when Mom used to do that to me?), and the tragic death of
her only true love. Of course, Bullock slowly comes to understand
that her mother is not a self-centered, overly-dramatic, drunken
brute. No, she's a self-centered, overly-dramatic, drunken sweetheart
trapped in a loveless marriage of her own creation.
These ladies are so fake and loud that there is no way in hell
anyone but their accountants cares about them. Besides the character
of Bullock's mother, not a single one of them has ever done a
God damn thing with her life. Where the fuck are their husbands?
Why don't they have anything else to do? Do they have any traits
that aren't from the first two pages of the Southern Stereotype
Handbook? Apparently all they've ever done is hang around the
swamps getting fat, annoying and doting over Burstyn.
And who gives a baboon's ass about the petty life of the mother?
Suck it up, Burstyn! Everyone who isn't happy isn't given a free
pass to fuck up the lives around them, so why should you? The
movie never lets the mother or daughter get quiet enough or deep
enough for us to find out what makes them special besides the
extreme amount of yelling. What does it matter to us if two more
miserable people stay unhappy? Bullock is whiny and sad all the
time. Burstyn is just severe and mean. So she had a nervous breakdown
and got locked up. Whose mom wasn't? And didn't we all turn out
okay? We can at least agree that I did.
Ten minutes are wasted on a gauzy scene illustrating that the
mother made sure her daughter got to go on a plane ride at the
fair. If this were my life, we could spend ten minutes on the
part where my mom punched eight-year old Kenny Huff in the eye
for breaking my bike. We can skip the part where she then punched
me. Another ten are squandered proving how progressive the storytellers
are. Why, they even hired a black woman to portray a nanny just
so they could have a big scene illustrating that - SHOCK - racism
is terrible. The scene plays like a rich person saying "Look
everyone! Look at the black maid I hired! See how colorblind I
am!" If Ms. Khouri and company actually weren't racists,
they could have given the woman something to do other than be
trotted out to make the white filmmakers feel better about themselves.
Divine Secrets also has some of the worst child performances
in history. Really, it's the script's fault for making them behave
the way grandparents think their grandkids act rather than how they
really do. They are contrived to suit the story: wise, compassionate,
or ebullient in situations where no real child would be. In the
flashbacks, Bullock's character has two siblings. Apparently died
in some non-tragic way. How else can the story explain never mentioning
them in the present. What, the mother didn't fuck them up too? Their
memories or current condition offer no counterpoint or corroboration
of Bullock's complaints? They don't come to the big birthday party/climax?
The mother never gave a rat's ass about them so she just gives her
heirloom ring to Bullock? Christ, the movie seems to treat them
as poorly as it does the black nanny. And they're white!
It's just more fakery and fraud. The Divine Secrets of the Ya
Ya Sisterhood is a horrible movie, and we don't even get to
see any ya yas. One finger.