Boys on the Side (1995)
User ReviewsReview this title
Three women sharing a car going west, team up in this winning celebration of camaraderie, caring and friendship which quickly becomes a family, in 'Boys on the Side'. One is a wisecracking club singer, one is a finicky real-estate agent and one is a free spirit. Each has secrets to reveal, strengths to impart and vital moments of self-discovery awaiting. Now is their time.
What a fine cast for such a dramatic movie. The three main girls in 'Boys on the side' include the 'lesbo' Jane (Whoppi Goldberg), Robin (well acted by the talented Mary-Louise Parker), who is being helped to drive across America by Jane, and the fun loving and partly liberated Holly (Drew Barrymore). All these women are amazing in their roles.
I love how Jane stands up for herself and her sexuality, in addition to the fine music she can sing. Robin is a girl hiding a big secret, but we are aware that her life has not been an easy ride, which seems ironic, because of what the movie shows. Then what Holly is enduring, is quite staggering, being involved with a brutal man, Nick (Billy Wirth), that no woman should have to put up with. It is Holly's great personality and character that turn these best friends into a very close-nit family. Her situation is not as easy as it seems either.
While men are not talked about in a very good light in the film, we do see some men that are decent to these women. Robin admits to having a thing for barman, and on the road trip she meets up with Alex (James Remar) a caring barman, who is really hooked on Robin. The way their relationship goes is an interesting aspect of the movie. James had an interesting character in HBO's 'Sex and the city'. Holly, with such a bubbly personality meets a cop cutely named Abe Lincoln (Matthew McConaughey). He dearly loves Holly, wants her as his wife, so she can live a life that can be happy and trouble-free. I am interested in seeing McConaughey's latest film, titled 'How to lose a guy in 10 days'.
The director of BOTS was Hebert Ross (from the brilliant 80's movie, Steel Magnolias). He is a very game sort of director, and does not shrug away from any of the important issues within the film. I love how he brought out the movie's main themes of sex and sexuality (gay and straight), the empowerment of women, friendship, sickness, humour and what it means to be a family.
But the movie's story was also a highlight from where I viewed it. Written by Don Roos, it was very touching and emotional, but also holds a large amount of subtle, clever humour. The way he wrote the three main characters was terrific, with them all having very different situations for us to learn about. This I believe allows us to fall in love with each one of them. The use of quick flashbacks is another aspect that was well written into the screenplay by Roo's as were some of the lines in BOTS, which are unforgettable. Lines like when Holly asks Robin at the dinner table, `We're you?' in reference to her and Jane having a sexual relationship, the next few lines are great. The title of the film was well thought up, considering the line that Robin's mother says to her daughter, `You can't fight nature, God knows you women keep trying, treating your men like side dishes, stick a fork in when needed, just like men used to treat us.' That line is basically what the film is all about.
Another great part to this film was its soundtrack. It was not only clever to incorporate it via one of the movie's characters, that of Jane, it makes the whole movie all the more compelling. Whoppi Goldberg and Mary Louise Parker sing a fine solo of the Roy Orbison classic, 'You got it'. Then for the movie to have another performer actually sing the song, I found to be just original, as some films would just throw in the old song, but not here. Another ironic part of the soundtrack is a song written and sung by known lesbian Melissa Etheridge, titled 'I take you with me'. I am sure that the powers behind this movie wanted such a performer, considering one of the main characters in the film was also gay.
I watched this film, just a few weeks after seeing a movie that I am sure inspired the writer of the script, that being 'Thelma and Louise'. Parts of 'Boys on the side' has a similar feel to 'Thelma and Louise' - that of women on a road trip, trying to break free of men's hold on them. While a lot of the film is original, it has a very touching ending, to what can only be described as a very emotional movie. I also feel that director Herbert Ross, allows us to experience what each character is going through in life and does not shrug away from any issues that other movies might simply try and avoid. With a cleverly incorporated soundtrack, 'Boys on the side', is a movie that we can all learn from, to try and improve not only our friendships that we have, but how we live our lives in a world that can be cruel, harsh and unfair.
CMRS gives 'Boys on the side': 4 (Very Good Film)
It's so touching, it makes me cry every time. But I love it. It's not perfect by any means, but it's definitely one to watch with the girls. Boys are on the side.
What will surprise you about this comedy (and tear jerker) is that it's not as predictable as you may except. Although the story line is simple, there are always the odd parts which you don't expect. The fight at the beginning with Nick will keep you shocked and probably laughing.
It's definitely a chick flick (although the guys may drool over a blonde Barrymore.) However the actor who plays Abe Lincoln is an eye catcher.
This is not one of Whoopi Goldberg's best roles and I didn't think her part as the lesbian was believeable, yet she did display both strength and humor to keep you interested. Mary Louise Parker was excellent and her performance was on line with her part.
Definitely a movie for a Barrymore fan and if you need a heart warming movie to keep you interested at night. You go get it!
Great movie about three women (Whoppi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore) and their various adventures as they travel cross-country. Goldberg plays a lesbian, Parker plays a straight woman with AIDS and Barrymore a pregnant, unwed woman. All three are fantastic and the film manages (more or less) to juggle many plot elements (AIDS, lesbianism, pregnancy, drugs, violence, murder etc etc) and deal with them all effectively.
Parker is probably the first woman ever to play a straight woman with AIDS in a major Hollywood film--quite a feat. Goldberg and Barrymore are just letter perfect in their roles. Also the unknown Matthew McConaughey (absolutely gorgeous with a buff body and blue eyes blazing) and Estelle Parsons (as Parker's mother) give strong supporting performances. The film is long but never dull and it all ends to a very moving final sequence--I cry every time I see it!
Two minor quibbles--it takes Barrymore over a year to have her baby and there are obvious cuts in the second half of the movie (I assume this was to keep the film down to two hours). But these are minor problems. A very funny, very moving film. Don't miss it!
It is funny and has plenty of action throughout. It is also so sad, anyone who doesn't cry must be emotionally retarded. I especially love Mary Jane Parker in this film even though all the actors are great.The film has so many great lines in it too and who would have known Whoopi Goldberg has a decent singing voice.
I strongly recommend everyone to watch this. Its just a shame i cant get this on region 2 DVD anywhere so i have to watch it on video which is not great.
Mary-Louise Parker's character is so sad, yet so rich. Barrymore's fatuous shenanigans in the bus window are hilarious. Whoopie is no-nonsense, a realist, a skeptic -- but not offensive or shrill.
Minor characters are great, too.
Fried Green Tomatoes goes to Arizona.
Sound track is to die for.
I think it looked better in the previews then it wound up being. Not an awful movie but not one that I liked terribly. I did like the premise because I'm into road movies.
I know some people loved this. I just wasn't one of them. The whole movie was very forced, a bit contrived and weepy. Not that there's anything wrong with movies that have those aspects but after seeing some really incredible road movies I expected it to be a lot better and be a bit more original.
I will say, however, the acting was good-ALL THREE of the leads were spectacular. That was the main positive. But Coming so soon after "Thelma" it seemed like this was almost done to get people to the cinema. Even the previews made it look so much like Thelma.
Or maybe I was spoiled by Thelma and Louise, to me no other female road trip movie even comes close. Although I will say this was a tear jerker with interesting characters and good acting(the much better then average cast in my opinion is what saves this movie), on a whole I found it to INTENTIONALLY sappy and unoriginal. My vote is 5 of 10.
In fact, Mary-Louise Parker is pretty much reprising the same exact role from Fried Green Tomatoes only in contemporary dress. There is even an identical lesbian angle (Parker is the pretty straight girl who has a lesbian who adores her, futilely). My guess is that for most women, being adored by a mannish lesbian is not very flattering, but creepy and you wouldn't go on to hang around with that person as your "bestie" -- you'd avoid them.
Drew Barrymore is about 20 years old here and just adorable with a mop of curly hair. There is also Matthew McConnaughey in his first role, as a straight arrow cop who loves Drew. And of course Whoopie Goldberg, basically playing herself -- she simply has no range at all. Her character is not very convincing as a lesbian, it seems like a plot device. She too is reprising her role from Sister Act -- the flamboyant lounge singer.
So though the actresses are all quite attractive, and there is some cute, snappy dialog amongst them, the plot structure is ridiculous. Whoopie is driving from NYC to LA, and needs someone to share gas expenses (in a minivan?), and Mary-Louise joins her. They pick up Drew, who is running away from an abusive boyfriend (whom she accidentally murders). On the way, Mary-Louise's AIDS flares up, so they stop and STAY FOREVER in Tucson -- where none of them have roots or family or any reason to be there.
Amazingly they are able to rent a huge adobe MANSION in the remote desert (???) though none of them has money or a job, and one is pregnant and one is dying of AIDS. How do they pay for this? It's like a $3 million dollar palazzo. BTW, I've been to Tucson and it is staggering hot desert country, something you'd never glean from the film -- it's like they picked Tucson by throwing a dart at map blindfolded -- for starters, it is NOT on the way from NYC to LA, but hundreds of miles out of the way.
Let me repeat: none of them have real jobs, or health insurance, yet it's no problem to rent a huge house (constantly filled with hundreds of friends -- in a strange city -- and lavish parties). It's all about "bonding" between these 3 very different women who honestly have nothing in common, and one is dying and another has a deeply creepy crush on her.
There is a time-line here set by Drew's character's pregnancy -- she is visibly pregnant as soon as they are in Tucson and has her baby near the end, so the whole film must be happened in under 7 months and more likely 3-4 months. Yet it is very clear in the plot that over a year goes by -- the longest pregnancy in history. Furthermore, it ends up that Drew's baby is fathered by some black guy who is never mentioned in the plot at all. Matthew recovers from this shock in a nanosecond, and presumably marries her anyways.
In short, this is less about female friendship than pure science fiction. These are not dear friends but casual acquaintances from a road trip, and their stay-over in Tucson makes zero sense plot-wise or common-sense wise. Most treasured friendships evolve over a lifetime of shared experience -- not forced through contrived short-term events. It's beyond obvious this was written and directed by men.
Parker is in need of someone to share road expenses on a move west and Goldberg answers an advertisement in New York. When they get to Pittsburgh they add on a pregnant Drew Barrymore fleeing from an abusive drug dealing boyfriend Billy Wirth.
The last time I saw a film with a plot premise like this was Kalifornia where David Duchovny takes on a psychotic Brad Pitt as a traveling companion with their respective women. That one was deadly serious and I do mean deadly film. In a much lighter vein Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland got Burns&Allen and a large great dane in Six Of A Kind.
Boys On The Side falls between these other films in its humor ratio. The trenchant observations the women have about life and love are the best part of the film. All three have secrets we all learn, one of them is dying.
Best two scenes in the film are Goldberg on the stand giving as good as she gets with prosecutor Dennis Boutsikaris and Parker and Gillette having a good mother and daughter hair letting down.
Matthew McConaughey got some early attention here as a deputy sheriff who falls for Barrymore. It's a real difficult part and I'm not sure McConaughey avoided being too much a Dudley Do-Right.
Still more than just cast member fans will find something to like with Boys On The Side. It will grow on you.
The first half is a road trip like 'Thelma & Louise'. It seems to be going for the same outlaw vibe but then they settled in Tucson. The movie has to restart over again for the second half. I don't like the reboot in the middle of the movie. The missing three months should have some compelling drama. The three actresses are great performers. That's why they do so well together. The second half is not quite so compelling. There are new characters. The trio doesn't always stay together. The trial is like a side trip. The tension from the first half fizzles out in the second half.
I find the film incredibly plain and dull. The characters are not likable, and I do not care much for them. Holly, in particular, is annoying and stupid. The domestic violence part gains her some sympathy, but confessing it to the wrong person is plain silly. As a result, the plot becomes contrived. The way the story is told is plain, with almost no emotional ups and downs. The only thing that holds my interest is Robin's illness, but even that is not so well developed. Her condition could have been a lot more dramatic and touching, but the whole subplot fails to engage or captivate. In short, I find "Boys on the Side" boring. I can only say I am not the target audience of this film.
The original screenplay from Don Roos attempts to tackle too many issues (murder, AIDS, single mothers and homosexuality to name a few), and in so doing fails to deal satisfactorily with any of them. Many of the relationship problems that arise are never properly dealt with or resolved. The show gets so weighed down with emotional baggage and unnecessary seriousness that what fun their is, gets lost in all the dreadfully morbid drudgery. Thus the comedy that does exist is drowned along with all the wild shenanigans. Add to this the fact that all the fellas are either schmucks or complete losers, and not only is it obvious the girls want to go it alone for a good reason, but it's also clear that this is an ordinary, forgettable film.
Whoopi Goldberg has been infinitely better than this, and though both she and Mary Louise Parker (in a role similar to that in "Fried Green Tomatoes") are competent, we know they're both well below par here. As for Drew Barrymore, she still fails to show any of the promise she did as a young actress, and seems content to flaunt her bod. Though this may serve as a distraction for the men, her pretty looks are no substitute for raw talent, which she really needs to find before she is typecast.
Like I said, this is very much hit and miss stuff, but more so the latter. "Boys on the Side" just never successfully influences the emotions, which "Steel Magnolias" did so easily with its quirky, lovable characters and simple theme.
At least the trendy rock soundtrack which featured artists like The Cranberries and Annie Lennox saved some face.
Saturday, August 5, 1995 - Waverley Pinewood Cinema
When reading the plot this movie might seem ordinary and non-interesting like another "Thelma and Louise" wannabe: Three girls in a car on the run from a police charge. Don't be fooled! Boys On The Side is as far from an ordinary road movie as it can ever be. Beyond the - at first sight - simple plot hides unexpectedly deep and complex characters brought to life in stunning acting performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore and cameo Anita Gillette. Actually (as intended) it is these strong female characters and the emotional interactions between them that hold this movie together. The few male characters in the movie are (as the title indicates) kept on a side track, though they are of great importance to the development of the three women.
However, what I like the most about "Boys On The Side" is its delicate mixture of humor and drama taking you on an emotional journey with equal room for laughs and tears. With charm, warmth and wits this movie gives you a story about love, friendship, solidarity, and discovering the true values in life, as it also treats delicate issues like homosexuality and AIDS in a non-offensive way that most people will be able to relay to.
Another successful addition to this fantastic movie is the soundtrack, which is a carefully selected collection of songs performed by strong female artists, i.e. Sheryl Crow, The Cranberries, Annie Lennox, Pretenders and more.
"Boys On The Side" may not be the perfect movie for a romantic evening with your boyfriend, but as a "girls' movie" on a night out with your friends it is highly recommendable. Simply a movie worth watching!
Add to that one of the first scripts that looked at AIDS from the eyes of women. Not just a straight woman, but also a gay woman. How the characters both men and women deal with the issue, which is usually for Hollywood and the motion picture world, a male issue (the only other film I can immediately refer to as an AIDS film relating to women is the HBO film GIA).
I highly recommend the film for all audiences - including teenagers. It deals with many delicate issues with great warmth, love, trust, humor and truthfulness.
Thank you for this little gem!
The one redeeming part. Matthew McConaughey when he still had good hair. Okay, perhaps I'm being too hard.
No, I'm not. The Wild Wild West with Will Smith still ranks as the worst movie made in recent memory and this one was not that bad. Well...not quite.
Don't waste your time.