‘Mean Girls’ in a retirement home. What’s not to like?

Queen bee

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend delves into adjacent queer and queer headlines from the past that deserve a watch or re-watch.

The bad girls: the queen bees

Yes, the title says it all: New 80-year-old comedy Queen Bees is, in essence, Mean Girls set in a retirement home. The filmmakers could have called it Mean Golden Girls, which would also have been correct.

The adorable comedy follows Helen (the ever-wonderful Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn), a recently widowed woman who, after accidentally setting her house on fire, moves into a retirement community while her house is being destroyed. renovation. Helen hates living in a retirement home, even though it looks more like a five-star resort and spa than a nursing home. In addition to her hurt pride, Helen immediately bumps into the “queen bees” of the house: the chilly Janet (Jane Curtin), the sexpot Margot (Ann-Margret) and the ever-blunt Sally (Loretta Devine). When Helen joins the girls for bridge, she and Sally develop a tender friendship. The arrival of handsome suitor Dan (James Caan) also endears Helen’s new surroundings … until she and her three bridge partners find evidence that he is involved in a nefarious plot.

Ok, so the premise is thin and the story predictable. That doesn’t mean Queen Bees fails to entertain. On the contrary, an excuse to see these artists in anything gives us enough reasons to look. Ellen Burstyn is perhaps the greatest actress alive, and here she reminds viewers why: she gives a deep and moving performance as Helen, a woman trying to make the most of her later years. Burstyn and Devine (who, along with Curtin, seem a little too young on their own) also have unexpected magnetic chemistry together. An (allegedly) improvised scene of the couple in bed smoking a joint shows the two performers at their best: In addition to making some of the movie’s bigger guys laugh, the couple shows the nuance and humanity of their characters. Queer icon Ann-Margret also has fun playing the role of sensual Margot; his scenes with the community’s resident stud (Christopher Lloyd) also produce howlers.

Queen Bees has all the elements of Golden Girls and Mean Girls, right down to a pair of young idols. Here they come in the form of Peter (Matthew Barnes), Helen’s intellectual grandson, and Pablo (Ricky Russert), the female yoga teacher with a penchant for strip poker (we’re not complaining. not). Stupid but heartfelt, featuring a cast of glorious talent and fun, bitchy zingers, Queen Bees provides a delicious diversion for anyone depressed by the slingshots and arrows of life.

Now in theaters and available on request.

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