July 11, 2013

Women will cheer for these ‘Hot Flashes’

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Movies, Women at 10:55 pm by dinaheng

It isn’t often that women take center stage in the movies — at any age — so it’s great to see several stars “of a certain age” featured in the new comedy, “The Hot Flashes.”

The movie, out in theaters this weekend, shares what happens when a group of middle-aged Texas women join together to become a basketball team and challenge the current high school girls state championship team in a charity match for breast cancer prevention.Dinah Eng

When Beth (played by Brooke Shields), an overlooked, bored housewife, learns that the local mammogram mobile is going bankrupt, she decides to push, pull and badger classmates who once ruled the court in 1978 to work together again to save the mammogram mobile.

The unlikely team includes five-time divorcee Clementine (Virginia Madsen), biker chick Roxie (Camryn Manheim), “closeted” lesbian Ginger (Daryl Hannah) and Florine (Wanda Sykes), the dignified African-American mayor of the mostly white small town. Coaching the team that hasn’t played ball together in 30 years is Paul (Mark Povinelli), the local veterinarian and a dwarf with a shady past.

"The Hot Flashes" team and Coach Paul await the game's start. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

“The Hot Flashes” team and Coach Paul await the game’s start. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

While most of the town, including Beth’s husband Laurence (Eric Roberts), scoffs at the women’s efforts, others begin to take notice of the middle-aged players, including Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” who makes a cameo appearance.

Before the final buzzer rings, The Hot Flashes go on a journey that teaches each woman that she’s “still got it” — on and off the court.

“I like working with female ensemble casts, and there aren’t many movies with good parts for females over a certain age,” says Susan Seidelman, director-producer of “The Hot Flashes.” “The script came to me about five years ago from Brad Hennig, a writer who grew up in a small town in Texas. He played basketball, and his mom died of breast cancer.

“We started going to the studios, but they’re all making movies for the young boy audience. We were determined to get it done, so went the independent movie route. I believe there’s an underserved audience of men and women over the age of 40.”

The film was made with equity financing, receiving support from individuals who liked the movie’s theme, that women over the age of 40 can still be active and make a difference, as well as its advocacy for early breast cancer detection.

Breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow contributed an original theme song that closes the film, and marketing partners include the American Cancer Society, the WNBA, Vera Bradley, and others.

“Our actresses are all terrific,” says Seidelman, whose directing credits  include “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “Making Mr. Right.” “Women 40 and older don’t get to play leading ladies anymore. They get to play the leading lady’s mother. But not all movies need to be ‘Ironman 3.’

“One of the things that was cool about the film was doing some basketball training in advance. It was like summer camp, and the actresses all bonded well. They didn’t want stunt doubles. There’s a tendency for women to become invisible after age 45. I hope this film inspires others to have fun, challenge themselves, and do physical activities, no matter what age they are.”

“The Hot Flashes” is in theaters July 12. For more information, check out http://www.hotflashesthemovie.com/.

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