News Column

When did 'Pretty Baby' become a 'Hot Flash'?; Old jokes just aren't as much fun when the joke's on you.

July 11, 2013


I can remember exactly when I first made my mother feel old -- like crone, haggard, wart-on-the-nose-giving-Snow-White-an-apple old.

A Motown song was playing in the car, and I remember the look on my mom's face when Teenage Me haughtily referred to the music that defined my mom's teen years -- the soundtrack of her youth and coolness -- as an "oldie."

Of course, my cavalier, careless chickens have come home to roost. Because several of my childhood idols -- the women who Teenage Me looked up to as the pinnacle of sexy ladyhood -- are in a new movie called "The Hot Flashes."

OK, Mommy. I get it. You can stop laughing now.

Susan Seidelman, who directed a little movie when I was in high school called "Desperately Seeking Susan," assembled the People magazine bikini dream team from 1985 -- Brooke Shields, Virginia Madsen and Daryl Hannah, along with the very funny Camryn Manheim and my comic idol Wanda Sykes -- in a film about former Texas high school basketball stars who assemble about 30 years later to play the state champions for several thousand dollars and a renewed sense of self.

From the intriguing and funny trailer, also featuring silver fox Eric Roberts (who in 1984 was hot young Eric Roberts), "The Hot Flashes" seems like a high-class Lifetime movie. The title refers presumably not only to the early menopause symptoms of Shields' character, but to the name of the team, and to lightning speed, even at that age.

But to me, it could also refer to youth, which seems so endless and compulsory when you are young.

You have boundless energy. You have no cellulite. You can eat wings at 3 in the morning and neither gain weight nor have to have your mail and all phone calls forwarded to the bathroom when you wake up. You are also unusually quick to use the word "old" about other people, as in "your music is old" or "old movies are stupid" or "your prom dress looked stupid and old."

And this might be true, because puffy sleeves and butt bows were stupid. But it's the way young people say it -- heck, I said it -- like you can be an expert on taste, style and culture at 13. You can't. You don't know everything, you can't even drive and you don't pay rent. But you're still young, in a way that people older than you worship, and in a way that you will be chasing for the rest of your life. Trust me.

I have not seen "The Hot Flashes," but its characters appear to be in that same mode -- women who were made to believe that they peaked, no matter how successful and gorgeous they are now, at 18, in bodies they don't have anymore and with an undisputed carefree vibe you can't get back at 45 no matter how much Botox you inject.

You can look good for 45. But you will never look 18 again, because you're not.

The thing about it is -- and if "The Hot Flashes" follows the trajectory the trailer follows, it concurs -- there are some things better than being 18. There's family, and your career, and, hopefully, more money and experience. There's the wisdom that comes from being a good friend, from being a good partner, from having worked incredibly hard to be the you that you are now, in an existence that your parents didn't buy you, that wasn't assigned to you like a gym uniform.

This is you. And if you look back at 18-year-old you and miss her fearlessness, her spunk, her tireless unsinkable certainty that you can do anything with a little hard work, and you smile -- well, you can get that back.

I swear. It's possible. But you'll do it with a 40- or 50- or 60- something's knowledge and credit rating and common sense. Twitter: @LeslieStreeter

'the hot flashes': watch for the cure

"The Hot Flashes" stars Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Wanda Sykes, Virginia Madsen and Camryn Manheim as middle-aged women who relive their glory days as high-school basketball champs by challenging the young, snooty high school girls' state champs to raise money for breast cancer prevention. The movie opens at Movies of Delray on Friday.

On Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., Susan G. Komen for the Cure volunteers will be handing out information at the Movies of Delray, and Marion Pollock, a breast cancer survivor, will tell her story before the movie.

Where: Movies of Delray, 7421 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach.

Last month, the Hollywood Reporter noted that actresses over 40 are burning up the screen like never before. Examples: "The Heat" stars Melissa McCarthy, 42, and Sandra Bullock, 48. Maybe a little life seasoning makes women even funnier? "We could have easily told the story with two 30-year-olds, but it didn't seem to have the resonance that I wanted it to have," says "Heat" director Paul Feig, who also directed "Bridesmaids."

Why more roles? Baby Boomers buy movie tickets. More than one- third of all movie tickets purchased domestically were by those 40 or over. At 28 percent, baby boomers are the largest segment of the overall population, the Hollywood Reporter noted. "The audience is aging," says a studio chief. "It's no surprise that the stars are as well."

Revenge of the over-40 actress

dribble that butterball!

Butterball is a corporate supporter of "The Hot Flashes" and has a supporting role in the movie -- when Brooke Shields' character uses the Butterball turkey she is about to cook for dinner as a basketball to practice her moves.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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