Directed by John Whitesell. Starring Jason Priestley, Gabriel Olds, Jerry O'Connell, Steve Railsback, Kurt Fuller, Stephen Tobolowsky, Joe Pantoliano. (1993, PG-13, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 10, 1993
Mere calendars would be insufficient to gauge the sense of time one experiences while watching this movie. Eons might be a proper context if one were to give it much thought -- though the entire context of the movie, itself, can be viewed an argument against thought. When so few brain cells have been shed during the making of a movie, it seems foolish for others to expend more than their share figuring things out after the fact. Calendar Girl is inane, inept and implausible. Set in 1962, Calendar Girl's fatal error is that it is a nostalgia piece designed for today's teen fans of Beverly Hills 90210 who, not unsurprisingly, have no nostalgia whatsoever for the period depicted in the movie. The premise entails three 18-year-old boys from Nevada who journey to Hollywood, California to tell their idol Marilyn Monroe that they adore her. They plan to walk right up to her house and ask her out on a date. Yeah, right. At the beginning of the movie, there's a montage of famous Monroe shots: her dress blowing up over her face as she stands over a subway grating in Seven Year Itch, her unsuccessful seduction of Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot, the cheesecake calendar pose that launched her career. None of this generated a flicker of recognition amongst the unofficial Jason Priestley fan club assembled in the audience until the shot of Madonna's video imitating Monroe's “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend” number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Finally, they understood what the hubbub was about. Apart from the feeble script that has not a shred of believability, the other major problem is the lack of talent and/or charisma evidenced by star Priestley. The character he plays is not very likable -- and I think that's intentional. But he brings nothing to the role that enhances our understanding or experience. Oh, there are a few other plot details: Priestley has to resolve some conflicts with his father, the dorky character has to learn to be less dorky and the worrywart has to learn to be more spontaneous. Then there's the only plot detail that's worth any attention (apart from the attention it has received from picketing protesters from the deaf community). That detail is the performance of Stephen Tobolowsky (my candidate for the mantle of “hardest working man in show business”). Watch for him. He's in virtually every movie that comes out of Hollywood these days, and he's always one of the best things about each one. In Calendar Girl, he's the only thing worth noting.