Queen Bees | Reviews

Update: I’ve just found a review by LA Times where they say something specificabout Liz.

The pragmatic, independent Helen — described by her controlling daughter, Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell, quite good), as someone who “burns most of her calories rolling her eyes” — hates the lovely Pine Grove Senior Community on sight, though takes solace in the fact that she’ll only be there for a month.

I think she’s not only quite good, but amazing. The role is so different and the way she portrayed the controlling nature of Laura is so direct, without frills, but at the same time she didn’t fall into coldness, she is able to make you see Laura’s good intentions and her love for her mom. Liz managed to balance these two opposite aspects of Laura impeccably.

But yeah Liz is Liz, so not a surprise. I loved her role and her performance and I loved the movie.

Queen Bees is now in theaters and available on demand. Check it out, it’s an awesome and moving story, a truly amazing cast and Liz is fantastic.

Full review:

Review: An AARP ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Queen Bees’ gives Ellen Burstyn a welcome leading role

For the opportunity to see the great Ellen Burstyn in a lead movie role, the buoyant, AARP-friendly comedy “Queen Bees” is alone worth the watch. The enduring, Oscar-winning star of such classic 1970s films as “The Last Picture Show,” “The Exorcist” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” as well as last year’s galvanizing “Pieces of a Woman” (for which she was egregiously overlooked at awards time), Burstyn brings her A-game to the role of Helen, a widow forced to temporarily move into a retirement village after a fire in her longtime home.

The pragmatic, independent Helen — described by her controlling daughter, Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell, quite good), as someone who “burns most of her calories rolling her eyes” — hates the lovely Pine Grove Senior Community on sight, though takes solace in the fact that she’ll only be there for a month. (Uh, don’t take that time frame to the bank.)

But Helen really gets off on the wrong foot when she innocently runs afoul of the so-called Queen Bees, a feisty, tightknit trio — crabby ringleader Janet (Jane Curtin), amorous Margot (Ann-Margret, looking great) and puckish Sally (the always welcome Loretta Devine) — who think they rule the roost. (“They’re like ‘mean girls’ but with medical alert bracelets,” Helen wryly notes.)

Still, a series of events, including a sudden need for Helen’s ace bridge skills, lead the “Bees” to befriend her and she’s soon part of the hive. Prepare for a bit of rough sledding, though, courtesy of the troublesome Janet.

Meanwhile, a charming widower, Dan (James Caan), pursues the hesitant Helen and a sweet romance develops. But can it last? It’s complicated.

The film, directed by Michael Lembeck (“The Santa Clause 2,” “Tooth Fairy”) from a script by Donald Martin (based on a story by Harrison Powell, a producer here) may not cover any blazingly new territory, features a few contrived obstacles and doesn’t sufficiently explain why Curtin’s Janet is so cruel. But it’s largely such a sincere and diverting look at growing older and how change remains possible — Helen’s journey is particularly well drawn — that it’s easy to forgive the film’s occasional missteps.

The engaging cast also includes Christopher Lloyd as a Pine Grove lothario with memory issues, French Stewart as the facility’s agenda-driven administrator, a nicely toned-down Alec Mapa as the resident masseuse, and a winning Matthew Barnes as Helen’s devoted, protective grandson.

Source: Los Angeles Times


I’ve just read some reviews. They don’t say anything specific about Liz, but they are good ones.


I love that they noticed that Laura and Helen are similar, it’s exactly what I wrote in my thoughts.


Helen’s Relationship With Her Grandson

We love Peter because, alongside being an advocate for his grandmother, he is so adorably protective of her. She is his favorite dance partner, they have routine tea on Thursdays, and when he hears about Dan, he decides to have a chat with a man old enough to be his grandfather. It truly is cute and gives you an idea of maybe what Charlie, Helen’s dead husband, was like. Especially considering Laura is just like her mom.

Janet and Helen’s War For Influence

Initially, Helen didn’t want any part of the Queen Bees, for she is someone in or close to her 80s – that made Janet’s need for high school level drama not her cup of tea. However, Helen can’t stand a bully, and Janet had the wrong one. So while everyone else was either scared or avoided Janet’s sharp tongue, Helen went head to head, and boy was it glorious to watch.

Mind you, there aren’t serious hijinks or witty back and forth comments. More so, what is great about this war is how it reveals and pushes both characters. It reveals Janet’s vulnerabilities and secrets and pushes Helen to free herself from her routine, forge new relationships, and ultimately be more open, maybe even forgiving.

Dan and Helen Were Cute

As noted in Our Souls At Night, there is something about people in their golden years falling in love. There isn’t the madness of thinking you found the one and all the mistakes which come with trying to secure them. Never mind, sex isn’t pushed to the forefront as much as intimacy, companionship, and shared interests. So watching Helen slowly open up to the idea of liking, potentially loving Dan, was strangely soothing.

Plus, it gave you insight into what it means to find love again after being with the presumed love of your life and how you mentally and emotionally navigate that.

Nearly Everyone Was Given A Quality Backstory

Queen Bees impressively presents the majority of its characters with a compelling backstory. For the Queen Bees themselves, there is Helen’s storied history in activism, teaching, and her life with ex-husband Charlie. Sally dealing with cancer and falling for a man who later would come out as gay. Janet, the piece of work she is, slowly is compellingly revealed unto us. Even Margot, who arguably is the least developed amongst the Queen Bees, we learn about ex-husbands and get a sense that, be it love, money, being a helpless romantic, or a combination of the three, she loves them and leaves them.

And even beyond the leads, the Pine Grove masseuse details most of his life from immigrating from the Philippines and talking about how his wife.  And overall, the film really pushes the idea that everyone has a life. It’s just some are more willing to share or able to remember their life than others.

Arthur’s Story

Admittedly, we don’t get to know Arthur as much as some may want, yet as Margot uncovers his truth, he goes from seeming like the local playboy to someone who is being exploited. Thus, the sympathy you give to Margot, under the assumption she has fallen for a womanizer, slowly gets transferred to Arthur, especially once you see his apartment and hear what he calls Margot when they make love.

On The Fence/Low Points

The Twist That Nearly Derailed Helen and Dan

You can’t have a romance film without, usually, the guy gloriously messing up what was going good and you being left questioning, how could they redeem themselves? But what Queen Bees does is the kind of weird that you don’t even know how to process once Dan’s secret is revealed. Yet, because of how much you’ll like Helen and Dan, you never mind the obligatory wrench thrown into their relationship.


Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Queen Bees almost feels like a truncated mini-series the way it honors the majority of its characters by fleshing them out to the point you fully expect them to be based on someone. And with the relationships, be it familial, romantic, or between friends, each develops in a way to make you invested in everyone, not just Helen. Add in how it shows the need to further explore the lives of people in their golden years and, ultimately, what Queen Bees shows is the plethora of untapped stories in media.

Who Is This For?
Alongside those who like to see seniors bicker and form cliques, there is also something for those who want a sense of hope that, no matter how old you are, you can find love, new friends, and even heal old wounds with family members. Also, what this film offers, especially if you’re younger, is the idea that getting old, while it comes with aches, pains, and loss, isn’t something you should fear or purely see as the beginning of the end.

Source: wherever-i-look.com


This is not a good review but they say something that I love. The emotional impact of the movie is the complicated relationship between Helen and Laura. It’s the emotional core of the entire movie, even thought there are a few touching stories about the other characters, this is for sure the most important aspect of Helen’s life. I would have loved to have more scenes between Laura and Helen, and also to get into that more deeply, but I don’t think they didn’t deal with that enough or something.

[…]Most disappointingly, Queen Bees decides far too late that the real central relationship here is the strained one between Helen and her adult daughter (Elizabeth Mitchell) […]

Source: cityweekly.net


Good review:

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Queen Bees’ On VOD, A Rom-Com Meets ‘Mean Girls’ In A Senior Community

When you think Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Jane Curtin, Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret, and Loretta Devine, you probably picture their most iconic screen and stage moments from decades ago. In Queen Bees, now available on demand, this group of legends comes together in their 70s and 80s for a sugary-sweet comedy where mean girls run the halls of a senior community and it’s never too late to find love.

The Gist: Helen (Ellen Burstyn) is sick of being sent brochures for senior living community Pine Grove. When we first meet her, she’s giving a staff member a piece of her mind over the phone, telling them to stop wasting paper on trying to convince her to move there. She’s content living in her family home alone, enjoying tea time with her grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes) and savoring her independence. When she locks herself out and inadvertently starts a house fire, however, Helen is forced to move into Pine Grove while repairs are done – a move she insists is only temporary.

While she is initially against the move, it seems like a better option than staying with her daughter Laura (Lost‘s Elizabeth Mitchell), as things have been tense between them for some time. Helen soon finds that Pine Grove isn’t as pleasant as one might guess, thanks to the “queen b’s”, a trio of women – Janet (Jane Curtin), Margot (Ann-Margret), and Sally (Loretta Devine) who run the halls of the community. While Helen adjusts to this new social hierarchy, she’s also being courted by the charming Dan (James Caan), who seems to know all the right things to say. Things may be difficult at first, but Queen Bees tells us it’s never too late – never too late to be kind, to open your heart to new experiences, to fall in love, to let the past go.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Queen Bees may bring to mind films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hope Springs, Then Came You, and even Book Club on occasion. And yes, the Mean Girls inspiration is made quite obvious, even if there isn’t much follow through. Queen Bees feels like a made-for-TV movie, so it will appeal to the lovers of Hallmark romances.

Performance Worth Watching: The entire ensemble delivers some charming performances, but I was most won over by Loretta Devine as Sally. She’s the first to appear at Helen’s doorstep with an olive branch, brushing off Janet’s bitchiness and imbuing every one of her interactions with warmth and a sense of humor. A standout moment comes when she asks Helen to get stoned after finding out some tragic news, and it’s so fun to watch Devine and Burstyn play off one another as they smoke in bed. Devine has one of those eternally dazzling screen presences.

Memorable Dialogue: A lot of the dialogue in Queen Bees is cheeseball, but I was tickled by this exchange between Helen and Sally: “This isn’t high school,” says Helen. “You’re right!” replies Sally. “It’s worse. High school, we graduate. Here, we die.”

Sex and Skin: There are some references to some of Arthur’s sexual stamina and his evenings with many a lady at Pine Grove, but not much else.

Our Take: Queen Bees, for all its clichés and predictability, charmed me. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for all of the performers, or because I’m a sucker for films about the elderly living their best lives (there need to be more!). Or maybe it’s just because films that are overly sentimental, well-intentioned, and feel like they’re made for TV are what the heart wants sometimes. You’ll likely be surprised by nothing in Queen Bees‘s hour and 40 minutes, but who watches these kinds of movies to be surprised? We’re here for a balm of sorts, a journey that may pull out a few tears but is mainly here to warm our hearts and give us some peace of mind in this wild world of dark thrillers and loud action flicks. And that’s exactly what Queen Bees delivers.

With its corny score and formulaic script, Queen Bees could easily be written off had the cast been full of nobodies. It is a pretty forgettable story, and the film’s direction isn’t much better. But this is *the* cast! I mean, James Caan alone is enough to sell you. And none of them phone it in, either. They all are incredibly game for the entire story, giving as much to Queen Bees as they might give to The Godfather or The Exorcist. (Okay, maybe not that level, but they’re still fantastic). Moments that may otherwise have faded into the rest of the film’s syrupy story are elevated to a place that’s genuinely moving; I got a little misty when Margot finally got a peek into Arthur’s apartment, and when mother and daughter reconciled and had a good ol’ cathartic cry. Without this cast, it might have been eye-roll inducing, but they truly make it watchable. Queen Bees may not stay on the brain long past the time the credits roll, but it’s pleasant enough to warrant almost two hours of your time. It’s just that soothing!

Our Call: STREAM IT… if you’re into this sort of thing. Queen Bees may be too saccharine for its own good, but it is saved by lovely, convincing performances from an all-star cast.

Source: decider.com


Good review:

Queen Bees
Sort of a “Mean Girls” for the retiree set, this warmhearted if predictable comedy stars Ellen Burstyn as a woman who moves into a retirement home and joins the ruling cadre.
3,5 stars out of 5

“Queen Bees” is sort of a “Mean Girls” for the golden years set — nice older woman moves into a retirement home ruled by a group of imperious gals, clashes with and then joins them, helps them chill out a bit and also finds a nicely creased fellah to get all moony with.

It’s pretty predictable stuff, and you can practically map out the entire plot beforehand with sure-handed accuracy. But it’s also genuinely warmhearted, has some solid funny moments and features an admirable cast of older performers.

If movies were a meal, this is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and buttered corn: familiar comfort food. It won’t wow anyone with originality, but if you like that sort of thing you’re sure to come away satisfied.

This movie, directed by Michael Lembeck from a screenplay by Donald Martin, is notable if for no other reason that it isn’t often you see an 88-year-old actress as the lead in a mainstream film. That would be the inimitable Ellen Burstyn, who plays Helen, a fairly recent widow who clings to her independence.

Her daughter, Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell), is pushing her to sell her home and move into the nearby Pine Grove community. Her loving grandson, Peter (Matthew Barnes), acts as the supportive middleman and peacemaker between them.

But when Helen, who has a tendency to lock herself out of her house, accidentally burns down her kitchen, she agrees to move into Pine Grove for a month while repairs are done.

She soon runs afoul of the titular group that has all the other seniors running — OK, ambling — away in fear. They rule the central table in the dining room, decide who is or isn’t in the bridge club, and do early morning exercises in the courtyard with military precision, complete with whistles to wake everyone up.

Jane Curtin plays Janet, the iron-fisted leader of the group who takes a special dislike to Helen. But when one of their bridge foursome dies, Sally (Loretta Divine) recruits her to be her partner. It seems that she and the other queen bee, Margot (Ann-Margret), have been bucking under Janet’s stern yoke, and see Helen as a means to shake things up.

I enjoyed the portrayal of elderly folks in a rather closed community, and the comparisons to high school society are apt. Because the women outnumber the men, romance tends to be a by-committee type of thing. For example, Margot is currently sharing the amorous affections of one randy stud played by Christopher Lloyd (not me, the talented one) with a few other women. Lloyd is clearly having fun in a humorous role, complete with a squirrel’s nest toupee, though he gets one terrific, brief dramatic scene.

The other piece of the puzzle is James Caan as Dan, who moves in shortly after Helen and quickly commences with pitching woo at her, inviting her to every event going on at the retirement home. Helen resists, but soon finds those tender feelings welling up inside just when she thought they were long gone.

Caan’s a little worse for wear these days, walking gingerly with a noticeable stoop. But his scenes with Burstyn still have plenty of magic, and when they gaze into each other’s wet eyes with a feeling of longing and joy… well, I defy you not to get a little misty yourself.

“Queen Bees” is a story about fitting in, taking chances and the need to love and feel loved — all of which are vital at any age.

Source: filmyap


This is not just a review, but it also includes an interview with some old ladies of the movies.

‘Queen Bees’ Stirs Buzz With Its Cast Of Hollywood Greats

Having been playfully compared as this year’s Mean Girls in an older generation’s world of a retirement community, Queen Bees light-heartedly proves the stakes are much higher in this new film when Ellen Burstyn’s character Helen calls out the clashing attitudes saying, “This isn’t high school” and Loretta Devine’s character Sally immediately squashes that comment by saying, “It’s worse. High school, we graduate. Here, we die.”

This past April, Queen Bees found a happy home at independent film distributor Gravitas Ventures after acquiring the film’s North American rights from Arclight Films. Gravitas is releasing Queen Bees now in theaters and simultaneously on demand. Starring Burstyn, Devine, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, James Caan and a wonderfully out of the ordinary performance by Christopher Lloyd, these beloved Hollywood veterans are out in top form to tell this sweet story that is worthy of our attention.

“I wanted to do this because I don’t think there are any other movies at this time that tackle this situation,” 80-year-old Ann-Margret, who plays Margot, tells Forbes about the senior living home backdrop of Queen Bees. “You can make new friends, no matter what your age is, no matter what your situation is. Going to this brand new facility might be scary, but the people who try it find that they can make all these brand new friends and they can have their old friends meet their new friends and it’s great.”

Ann-Margret, perhaps best known for her sultry roles and memorable song-and-dance numbers in cinema throughout the 1960s and 1970s, proves in Queen Bees that age is merely a number and that she has still got it after all these years. When opening up about acting alongside her Queen Bees’ funny foursome with Ellen, Loretta and Jane, Ann-Margret says, “It was such fun! With Ellen, this is the third film that I have done with her, but it’s the first film where we’ve had scenes together because the other two [films], I was ‘the other woman.’ So we didn’t have any scenes together (laughs).”

Loretta Devine is famously one of the original Dreamgirls on Broadway when it debuted in 1981 and she has had a celebrated career ever since in both film and television, including recurring roles on popular series like Boston Public, Grey’s Anatomy and now Family Reunion on Netflix. Loretta, 71, might be the youngest of her Queen Bees group of ladies (Jane is 73, Ellen is 88), but she has found herself surprised by the stamina of her slightly older co-stars. “I thought Ann-Margret was sixty-something because boy, does she have a young spirit,” Loretta reveals of their adventures off-camera during their weeks of filming Queen Bees. “I had no idea! I had her walking up hills, we must’ve done all kinds of stuff. We were rooming right next door to each other. We shopped at Nordstrom, shopped at Ross, we had to go up a hill and across the freeway to get to there!”

It is evident that these eternally “young at heart” Hollywood stars not only have fun off-screen, but their chemistry trickles so naturally on-screen as their enjoyably layered characters figure out how to take on friendships, family and romance in this later stage of their lives. With this cast spending the majority of their lives working in Hollywood, Loretta has nothing but praise for the etiquette everyone brought to set. “Oh, it was a wonderful experience. You learn so much and I think it’s because they’re so dedicated and so professional. Everybody was always on-point with lines, where to be, what to do. It was just great.”

As Ann-Margret and Loretta reflect on their long, elaborate careers in the spotlight, they both have advice they would give to their former selves today, after everything they have experienced and achieved up to now. “You know what, if you’re going into whatever you’re going into, you’ve got to be passionate about it,” Ann-Margret adds. “You have to do it with passion. Otherwise, just forget it because you’re going to run into, especially with women, you’re going to run into some things that are unbelievable. Just remember what it is you want to do. I’m passionate about my work. I always have been and I always will be.”

As Loretta ponders on the advice for her former self, she jokes, “I would say you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into! I had no idea when we did Dreamgirls that it is going to outlive me! They are still doing it. Little kids are doing it in high school. It just happened, but it’s a great thing because a lot of the talent that the new, young people have comes from when they saw Dreamgirls. You go on the internet and people are mimicking you and you have to go Whoa! Whoa! So I have left something, no matter what happens. You have a legacy of things that people remember and that’s a good thing.”

Source: forbes


Good review:


‘Queen Bees’ Review

The Verdict: B+

Once behind the doors of Pine Grove Senior Community, she encounters lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments and a hotbed of bullying “mean girls” the likes of which she hasn’t encountered since high school, all of which leaves her yearning for the solitude of home. But somewhere between flower arranging and water aerobics Helen discovers that it’s never too late to make new friends and perhaps even find a new love.
In Theaters and On Demand June 11, 2021

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.”
Lou Holtz

We learn early on that age is catching up to Helen. She forgets things, dropping things, and her daughter wants to help her out, and Helen doesn’t want the help. After a conversation with her grandson, who is going away to college, he insists that he try to repair her mother’s relationship. It all comes to a head when Helen drops something, goes outside, and locks her keys inside, resulting in her kitchen going up in flames.

Against her better judgment, while the renovation is happening on her house, Helen will live at Pinegrove, an assisted living home. The home is as cutthroat as it comes. The ladies are living it up like it’s high school all over again. Between the alliances and men, the competition is fierce.

“They are like Mean Girls but with medical alert bracelets.”

We meet Dan (James Caan), who is quite smitten by Helen, and starts to wine and dine her all over the home. Quite a few girls begin to become jealous of their bond (Told you this was high school all over again) and start manipulating the situation.

One of the things that stands out throughout the movie was the one-liners which were well written and placed by Donald Martin (writer) and Michael Lembeck (director). They do a great job of setting the scenes up with a sprinkle of comedy here, a sprinkle of drama here and develop Helen to invest you in her journey. Ellen Burstyn is an absolute delight in the role of Helen. She and the rest of the cast looked like they were having the time of their lives and that made the movie more enjoyable.

Margot: I am very particular about what I put in my body
Janet: Hard to believe after five husbands.

The final act drops down to the predictable path and that was just fine for this movie. We witnessed character development, very good acting, and a well-put-together journey from the writing team. I had a blast.

Queen Bees is a charming, funny and delightful Mean Girls sequel.

Source: musiccitydrivein


Good review:

Ellen Burstyn is Luminescent in Queen Bees

As some of us grow older, many look upon that chapter as a beginning to the end. However, it’s actually one of the best chapters to live out. By this time, we have grown wiser, learned from our mistakes and take nothing for granted. After losing her husband, Helen (Ellen Burstyn) has become accustomed to living alone wihtin a stone’s throw from her daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell) and grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes). After all, having Peter closeby to check in on her comes in real handy as she consistently locks herself out of the house. After a kitchen blaze forces Helen to temporarily relocate while kitchen remodeling and demolitions are underway, she finds herself at Pine Grove.

What’s most endearing about this story written by Donald Martin is that it reminds audiences life doesn’t come crashing to an end just because one has grown into senior status. For many there is a revitalized awakening that occurs and you either embrace it or grow bitter knowing the inevitable is lurking around the corner. Martin’s jokes are hilarious with lines describing the Queen Bees as “mean girls with medical alert bracelets” or the whole monologue from the incredulously hysterical Loretta Devine (Sally) as she discusses her TaTa towel with Helen to get a handle on her ‘sweaty boobs.” We’re also reminded that a home is more than a commodity, a building or a piece of property…it’s memories. Or how losing a love one can bring a family closer or tear them apart. Most importantly how love can be found wheter you are 14 or 100 years in age.

With a cast chock full of legends like Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, James Caan, Ellen Burstyn and the incomparable Loretta Devine, Queen Bees will serve as a wake-up call on realizing it’s never too late to find friends, love and take risks and 80 becomes the new 18. Directed by Michael Lembeck, Queen Bees is available in theatres and on demand via Universal Pictures on June 11th.

Source: thecurvyfilmcritic.com


Not very good about the movie, but good about the cast:

“Queen Bees” is an earnest, occasionally moving tale stuffed with tropes older than its mature but talented cast.

From the film’s poster, it looks as if director Michael Lembeck and screenwriter Donald Martin were aiming for a retirement village “Mean Girls.” The four leading actresses are grinning as they admire a motorcycle.
That sort of movie sounds like it might have been consistently entertaining.

As it stands, “Queen Bees” rests firmly on the backs of performers so skilled they can make the most worn of story lines feel fresh and sincere. It’s sort of like listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn breathing new life into “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a bounty of films like “The Father” and “Here Today” about adults racing against an unhelpful clock. Because the struggle is universal, there are potentially fertile ways to discuss how people age.

Ellen Burstyn stars as a widow named Helen, who berates the operators of a retirement home because she’s grown weary of their fliers cluttering her mailbox. From her lacerating dismissal, it’s obvious her hearing and verbal skills are sharp. But though she can remember pithy quotes, Helen has trouble finding her keys.

When one of her lapses leads to an accident, Helen’s daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell) insists that her mother move into the same elder care facility sending the junk mail until Helen’s house is livable again.

While there she encounters a squad of pushy bridge players named Janet (Jane Curtin), Margot (Ann-Margret) and Sally (Loretta Devine) who act as if they are shareholders instead of residents. There’s also strangely popular lecher Arthur (Christopher Lloyd) whose obvious hairpiece acts as a sort of aphrodisiac.

Helen dreads her new home until a charming newcomer named Dan Simpson (James Caan) movies in. Dan is one of the few folks there who seems intent on making her happy. It also doesn’t hurt that Helen proves to be proficient at bridge. This forces the mean grandmas who initially rejected her to take her seriously.

If you’ve recently caught “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” it won’t take any effort to guess the plot points. Mortality and loss give way to growing friendships and good weed.

If these and other story lines seem to have fallen out of a recycling bin, it’s still refreshing to see Curtin and Lloyd demonstrate dramatic chops they haven’t been asked to use in a while. As a result, routine exposition scenes have more weight than they should have.

With the formidable talent in front of the the cameras, it’s a pity the material is so spotty and episodic. Imagine if Chekhov’s gun went unloaded or remained in a weapons safe. Serious diseases pop into conversation and disappear, and potentially engaging plot threads unravel.

Burstyn and company clearly have much to offer at this point in their careers, and they clearly deserve material fit for screen royalty.
‘Queen Bees’
78 Cast: Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine, Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Matthew Barnes, French Stewart
Director: Michael Lembeck
Rating: PG-13, for drug use, suggestive material and some language
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing theatrically

Source: arkansasonline


Good, not complitely, but good enough:

‘Queen Bees’ Review: Mean Girls on Social Security

Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine and Ann-Margret rule their senior community in this conventional comedy-drama that doesn’t waste its cast.

In what may be a first for cinema, “Queen Bees,” directed by Michael Lembeck, depicts a senior citizen using a mobile phone with no difficulty whatsoever. The senior in question is Helen, played by Ellen Burstyn, an independent woman who’s calling the living center for elders that keeps sending her brochures. In emphatic tones she tells the representative that she’s not moving from her house, which is pleasant but feels a little empty.

The problem is, she keeps locking herself out of her house. This habit, and Helen’s isolation as a widow, are of concern to her grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes) and of perhaps mercenary concern to her daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell). When a kitchen fire necessitates repairs, Helen is compelled to move into that living center — on what she repeatedly insists will be a temporary basis.
Here she meets the “Queen Bees” of the movie’s title, a trio of imperious women, led by Janet (Jane Curtin), Sally (Loretta Devine) and Margot (Ann-Margret), who rule the community’s card room and cafeteria. When Sally tries to convince Helen to ingratiate herself with these power holders, Helen protests that this isn’t high school. Sally responds that it’s worse; in “high school we graduate. Here, we die.”

One needn’t bother to make a “Mean Girls” comparison, as the movie’s dialogue itself does. “Queen Bees” is a thoroughly conventional comedy-drama right down to its saccharine score by Walter Murphy. (Yes, the “A Fifth of Beethoven” guy.) That said, it does not waste its impeccable cast, which also includes Christopher Lloyd and a remarkably game James Caan as Helen’s love interest. Each of these stalwarts bring more than charisma to their roles, and when the writing itself displays some snap (which admittedly isn’t that often) the performers bite right into it.

Source: nytimes



This is a movie that’s far more effective than its buzz. Because if this picture does anything (and yes, it does), it proves good, experienced actors can elevate even the most ordinary of scripts.

I mean. Ellen Burstyn, Ann-Margaret, Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine, Christopher Lloyd and James Caan. Just being in a room with them for a few hours is a treat, even if that room is in an assisted living facility. And, while Donald Martin’s screenplay is about as expected as you might fear it would be, this terrific cast, under the direction of Michael Lembeck, who also helmed “Friends”, knows how to make it work, bringing a wise sweetness and sense of humor we can all appreciate.

Here’s the set-up. Burstyn, who, it should be noted is 88 years old, thank you, stars as Helen, a widow, forced into temporary housing at a senior center. There, she runs into the fearsome Queen Bees, or, as written, the original Mean Girls. But that’s okay.

Helen’s not staying for long anyway. But then she meets Dan (a simply wonderful Caan) and, well, maybe Helen will stay a little longer than she thought.

Yes, Burstyn is amazing, gliding through almost every scene in the film with elegance and compassion. Throughout, we feel her emotional joy and pain, not any, if there are any, aches and pains. And, while I wish we’d seen more of Ann-Margaret and the devine Devine, Curtin is a hoot and Caan reveals a whole other side that’s deliciously different from the roles that have made him a star.

It’s great the film industry is acknowledging the fact that vehicles about older people, starring some wonderful actors, can, if done right, draw audiences. Not every character on the screen has to be a superhero, although in Ellen Burstyn’s case, we may want to consider just who qualifies for that title.

Source: themovieminute


Good review:

‘Queen Bees’ Review: Ellen Burstyn & Ann-Margret Lead Veteran Ensemble In Sort Of A ‘Mean Girls’ In A Retirement Home

The combined age of the key cast of the new comedy Queen Bees is so astronomical I can’t count that high. Ellen Burstyn is 88, James Caan is 81, Ann-Margret is 80(!), Loretta Devine is 71, Jane Curtin is 73 and Christopher Lloyd is 82. All of these actors have had stellar, awards-laden careers, and this new film, which could be described as Mean Girls in a retirement home, proves they still have a lot of firepower left.

The older audience is a potent one for movies, if only Hollywood made movies for them — films where maybe they can relate to characters their own age in showing it is never too late (this film’s original title) to find life and love. The idea for this one actually came from producer Harrison Powell, who based it on the experience of his own family, a grandmother who found new love when she reluctantly went to live for a brief time in a retirement home. That is the plotline here as independent Helen (Burstyn) refuses her daughter Laura’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) advice in moving from her comfortable home to a facility for seniors. However, a kitchen accident sets part of her house on fire and she is convinced to move to the retirement community for only one month while repairs take place.

When she gets there she finds that despite the advanced age of the residents it is really no different than high school, ruled by different cliques including a bridge club that doesn’t believe in inclusivity. That group is run by Queen Bee Janet (Curtin), who rejects the idea of Helen joining their game which also includes Queen Bees Margot (Ann-Margret) and Sally (Loretta Devine). But when Sally’s partner becomes incapacitated she rallies support for Helen to join. It is friction between Helen and Janet from that moment on.

The combined age of the key cast of the new comedy Queen Bees is so astronomical I can’t count that high. Ellen Burstyn is 88, James Caan is 81, Ann-Margret is 80(!), Loretta Devine is 71, Jane Curtin is 73 and Christopher Lloyd is 82. All of these actors have had stellar, awards-laden careers, and this new film, which could be described as Mean Girls in a retirement home, proves they still have a lot of firepower left.

The older audience is a potent one for movies, if only Hollywood made movies for them — films where maybe they can relate to characters their own age in showing it is never too late (this film’s original title) to find life and love. The idea for this one actually came from producer Harrison Powell, who based it on the experience of his own family, a grandmother who found new love when she reluctantly went to live for a brief time in a retirement home. That is the plotline here as independent Helen (Burstyn) refuses her daughter Laura’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) advice in moving from her comfortable home to a facility for seniors. However, a kitchen accident sets part of her house on fire and she is convinced to move to the retirement community for only one month while repairs take place.

When she gets there she finds that despite the advanced age of the residents it is really no different than high school, ruled by different cliques including a bridge club that doesn’t believe in inclusivity. That group is run by Queen Bee Janet (Curtin), who rejects the idea of Helen joining their game which also includes Queen Bees Margot (Ann-Margret) and Sally (Loretta Devine). But when Sally’s partner becomes incapacitated she rallies support for Helen to join. It is friction between Helen and Janet from that moment on.
In addition to the problems of fitting into this universe, Helen is wooed by likable newbie Dan (Caan), who courts her and finally wins her over (though there are complications). The other major male resident spotlighted here is Arthur (Lloyd), a frisky senior who is slowly slipping into dementia, making for a poignant few scenes involving him.
There is no attempt at broad comedy or outlandish situations in the script by Donald Martin, or the expert direction of veteran Michael Lembeck. It is just the stuff of life as we grow older, presented in an entertaining and fun scenario that feels old fashioned, the kind of movie Hollywood once loved turning out; with this superb veteran cast it is very welcome indeed. Burstyn is still one of the best out there, and Ann-Margret has clearly stopped the clock. Devine is a delight here as Sally, a spirited resident who has her own battles with aging. Curtin is perfectly cast, as are Caan and Lloyd. French Stewart turns up as the manager of the place, and there’s nice work from Matthew Barnes as Peter, Helen’s sweet and concerned grandson. Queen Bees is well worth seeing, no matter what your age.

Producers are Fred Bernstein, Powell and Dominique Telson. Gravitas Ventures opens it in theaters Friday.

Source: DeadLine Hollywood


Good review:

‘Queen Bees’ Review: A Lightweight but Likable Comedy Propelled by an All-Star Team of Old Pros

Ellen Burstyn and James Caan head an unusually strong cast of familiar faces in director Michael Lembeck’s indie crowd-pleaser.

There will always been a place in the world for older-skewing movies as pleasant as “Queen Bees,” a lightweight but likable comedy set primarily in a retirement community where close friendships are forged — sometimes reluctantly, sometimes immediately — and autumnal romance can blossom. For years, their natural habitat has been bargain-matinee multiplex screenings, where over-50 ticketbuyers might attend solo, in groups or accompanied by children and/or grandchildren. More recently, viewing options have expanded to include the modern miracle of VOD. But any way you look at it, director Michael Lembeck’s indie offering is bound to please nearly anyone in its target demographic who isn’t easily offended by unmistakable indications that, as the old saying goes, although there’s snow on the roof, fire can still burn in the hearth.

Ellen Burstyn heads the unusually strong cast of familiar faces as Helen Wilson, a fiercely independent retired schoolteacher who — much to the dismay of Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell), her slightly control-freakish daughter — is determined to keep living in the spacious house where she shared so many good times with her three-years-deceased husband. But after she accidentally causes a fire in her kitchen, Helen is forced to move into a retirement community while extensive damage is repaired. The relocation, she insists to anyone who’ll listen, is only temporary. Sure.

Shortly after she settles in at Pine Grove Senior Community, Helen runs into the unofficial rulers of the roost: much-married Margot (Ann-Margret), free-spirited Sally (Loretta Devine) and their ringleader, the sternly matriarchal Janet (Jane Curtin). These “Queen Bees,” Helen tells her attentive grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes), “are like mean girls, but with medical alert bracelets.” When a fourth member of the geriatric clique conveniently dies, however, there is an opening at the card table. And Helen just happens to be an ace bridge player.

Things proceed apace — predictably, yet amusingly — as love (or, to be more precise, lust) instantly binds Margot and Arthur (Christopher Lloyd), a Pine Grove newbie with a seemingly turbo-charged libido, while Helen takes considerably more time warming to the romantic overtures of Dan (James Caan), another recent addition to the retirement community.

Janet, a chronic sourpuss with a touch of Iago about her, periodically commits malicious mischief to complicate things, leading to a third-act revelation that seems cribbed from a turn-of-the-century romcom. More often, though, “Queen Bees” plays like a 1980s or ’90s sitcom — hey, did somebody say “The Golden Girls”? — complete with “very special episodes” involving cancer threats and other mortal stakes, and wisecracks that sound hand-tooled for laugh-track accompaniment. (Asked if Helen exercises, Laura replies, “She burns most of her calories rolling her eyes.”)

On the other hand, there are good reasons why many of those decades-old sitcoms remain enduringly popular on cable TV, not the least of which being the potent chemistry of their casts. A similar sort of charm propels “Queen Bees,” as well-cast supporting players like French Stewart (as the excitable Pine Grove manager) and Alec Mapa (as a philosophical Filipino masseur) have their moments to shine, and the leads interact with crowd-pleasing deftness.

Burstyn and Caan are so effortlessly charming together, you find yourself wishing they would be cast in a long-afterwards sequel to “Same Time, Next Year.” Lloyd and Ann-Margret are affectingly pitch-perfect in a payoff scene for the relationship between their characters, Devine brings equal flair to funny business and serious stuff, and Curtin is hilariously hateful until she doesn’t have to be.

There are about a dozen different ways “Queen Bees” could have soured into something unbearably silly and condescending — like, say, 2017’s unfortunate “Just Getting Started” — while dealing with the diminished physical abilities and unabated physical desires of its older characters. Fortunately, director Lembeck and scripter Donald Martin are savvy enough to avoid almost all of the booby traps — even while Helen and Sally are talking about, well, boobs — and emphasize the rueful self-awareness of those Pine Grove residents who want to enjoy their twilight days to the fullest before they go gentle into that good night.

Source: Variety


Good enough:

2,5 stars

Half a dozen veteran performers do their best to elevate a patchy script in “Queen Bees,” a gentle romantic comedy set in a retirement community that one character describes as “‘Mean Girls’ with Medic- Alert bracelets.” Longtime sitcom and sitcom-like movie director Michael Lembeck (“Friends,” “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”) keeps it light, though sometimes that translates to superficial. Think “Mean Golden Girls.”

Ellen Burstyn stars as Helen, a widow who is very attached to her devoted grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes). He visits her for tea every Thursday in the home she built with her late husband. Helen is very attached to the house as well, and is barely speaking to her daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell), Peter’s mother, and a realtor who has suggested she sell the house and move into a nearby retirement community called Pine Grove. Helen keeps the house in meticulous condition but can be a bit forgetful. That leads to a kitchen fire, and Helen has to move out while the house is being repaired. The only option is Pine Grove, and she grudgingly agrees to move there for just one month.

She is not sure which she finds more objectionable, all of the “Welcome to Pine Grove” greetings when she arrives (“I’m only staying for a month,” she snaps), or the clique-y derision of the bossy AARP mean girls who tell Helen she has to leave “their” table in the dining room and will not admit her to the bridge club. The leader is the acerbic bully Janet (Jane Curtin), who allows a select trio to be in the “cool” group as long as they follow her rules. They include Sally (Loretta Devine), a brighter version of “Golden Girls'” sweet-natured Rose, and Margot (Ann-Margret), a sweet-natured version of “Golden Girls'” man-hungry Blanche. Margot is always on the lookout for Mr. Right #6, or at least Mr. Right Now. At the moment, she has her eye on Arthur (Christopher Lloyd), who is very popular with the ladies despite a toupee described as looking like a muskrat died on his head.

Helen does not take Janet’s insults seriously, reminding everyone she is only going to be there for a month. But when a fourth member of the group dies and Sally wants to bring in Helen as a bridge partner, Helen cannot resist the chance to play a game she knows she plays well, or the opportunity to challenge Janet’s dominance. This is not a movie about clever one-ups-womanship, though. The second half is more interested in Helen’s developing romance with a debonair new arrival named Dan (James Caan).

It’s a pleasure to see pros like Burstyn create layered, appealing characters out of thinly written, predictable material. Her scenes with Barnes have an easy natural rapport as they trade favorite quotes, citing an amusing range of sources from Nelson Mandela and coach Lou Holtz to Miley Cyrus. It helps that she looks like a million bucks in a series of soigné gowns courtesy of costume designer Cynthia Flynt, amplifying Helen’s confidence and impeccable style.

Devine’s semi-improvised discussion of her very impressive and not entirely natural hair is a delight in a scene where she and Helen share a joint. And Ann-Margret speaks of her five husbands with such relish (“And the last two were rich!”) that we can understand how someone would want to be number six. There is some snap in the dialogue, too. Laura describes her mother to Pine Gardens’ manager (French Stewart, reuniting with his “Third Rock” co-star Curtin): “She burns most of her calories rolling her eyes.”

As all movies about this stage of life must, among obvious jokes about aches, pains, and Viagra—apparently it is okay to sexually objectify someone if you’re old—”Queen Bees” touches gently and sympathetically on the inescapable challenges of aging, loss of loved ones, loss of independence, cancer, strokes, and dementia. Helen speaks ruefully about “what passes for okay at this age.” But the movie’s lesson is that it’s our connections, strengthening old ones and making new ones, that make what passes for okay pretty good.

Source: rogerebert.com


Good enough:

What if ‘Mean Girls’ went to a rest home? That’s ‘Queen Bees’


“Queen Bees” is “Mean Girls” in a nursing home — it says so right in the trailer, when Ellen Burstyn’s character describes the clique that rules her assisted-living facility as “mean girls, only with medical alert bracelets.” Well, there are worse ideas for movies and certainly worse casts, and Michael Lembeck’s genial, predictable comedy rolls along on well-worn tracks elevated by the class and commitment of actors who’ve earned our affection over decades of work.
Burstyn plays Helen, a widow living contentedly and cantankerously on her own until a kitchen fire sends her to nearby Pine Grove for what she assumes is a month of home repairs. She’s hardly prepared for what she finds: swarms of senior ladies descending on a new male arrival (Christopher Lloyd) with casseroles in their hands and lust in their eyes, and a troika of women who call the shots and hog the best table in the lunchroom. They are warm-hearted Sally (Loretta Devine); ditzy, sexed-up Margot (Ann-Margret); and Janet (Jane Curtin), queen of the queen bees and a woman who looks like she was weaned on a pickle. When Helen complains that Pine Grove is as bad as high school, Sally replies, “It’s worse. With high school, you graduate. Here, you die.”
The screenplay, by Donald Martin and Harrison Powell, is just clever enough to clear the TV-movie bar, and the cast — Burstyn and Curtin especially — bat the dialogue around with feeling. Burstyn, now 88 and like her character no shrinking violet, invests Helen with a pride, intelligence, and sensitivity that renders a potential sitcom figure fully formed — the actress deserves better, but she’s already had it.

When James Caan turns up as Dan, a potential romantic partner, “Queen Bees” starts to shift from comedy toward sentiment, and, again, the players bring a charm and dignity that are out of proportion to the proceedings but still good to have around. Caan, younger than his costar but looking more frail, cuts a moving figure — a one-time rascal hobbled by age but still willing to learn to dance.

Lembeck’s direction is blandly functional, and secondary characters like the facility’s director (Curtin’s old “Third Rock from the Sun” costar French Stewart), Helen’s meddlesome daughter (Elizabeth Mitchell), and her adoring college-age grandson (Matthew Barnes) just hit their assigned marks. The jokes about “sweaty underboobs” and the like are forced — then again, what do I know? — and you can set your watch by the appearance of the scene where the grannies fire up a doobie and get the munchies. “Queen Bees” overstays its welcome by about 15 minutes, with cooked-up complications and a lot of earnest, overwritten speeches that tell us what we and the characters have already figured out.
Yet the end credits cheer the soul: a photo montage of real-life senior wedding celebrations, proof that there’s never a good time to call it quits, for actors or anyone else.

Source:  bostonglobe.com


Not very good about the movie, but good about the cast.

‘Queen Bees’ Film Review: Ellen Burstyn Leads an All-Star Cast Determined to Elevate Meh Material
An impressive comic ensemble is the only reason to see this golden-age rom-com

A love story set in a retirement home is a sweet premise, and when you stack the cast with greats like Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Jane Curtin, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, and Loretta DeVine, greatness is expected. But in director MIchael Lembeck’s “Queen Bees,” the overly simplistic nature of the script becomes both pragmatic and detrimental, never allowing any character the depth they are owed while providing just enough of a formulaic plot, one that asks nothing more than for you to enjoy the ensemble.

Helen (Burstyn) is an independent woman in her 80s whose daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell, “Lost”) and grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes, “Strange Angel”) are getting worried about her living alone. The matriarch constantly refuses her daughter’s suggestions about moving into a nearby retirement community until the day Helen accidentally sets her kitchen on fire. She finally agrees to live in the retirement community, for one month, until her home repairs are completed.

Helen quickly learns who the mean girls of Pine Grove are by getting on the bad side of Janet (Curtin), while befriending Margot (Ann-Margret) and Sally (Devine). Soon Helen finds herself not only enjoying her time at Pine Grove but also starting to consider love again, after she meets and is wooed by the community’s newest resident, Dan (Caan).
From the visual style to the storytelling, “Queen Bees” envelops itself in simplicity, served up like a warm dish of comfort food that’s had some of the flavor microwaved out of it. Production designer Dara Wishingrad (“The Photograph”) paints Helen’s world in cool pastel tones — so much so that when warm hues appear in later scenes to emulate the feeling of falling in love, it feels like a different film, and not in an intentional way. Cinematographer Alice Brooks (“In the Heights”) sometimes shoots the retirement community to look like a hotel, which only contributes to the flatness of the relationships that are forming there.

The script by Hallmark veteran Donald Martin, based on a story by Harrison Powell, reads like wannabe early-aughts Nancy Meyers, with a less misogynistic “Taming of the Shrew” subplot. The lack of substance in the writing becomes most apparent in the portrayal of female friendships. Those relationships have always represented a complex dynamic, but “Queen Bees” — unlike similar films about women over a certain age, including “Something’s Gotta Give,” “It’s Complicated,” and “Book Club” — barely attempts to explore them with any kind of depth.
And while Devine is a gem in this film, bringing warmth and energy to every scene she’s in, it’s hard not to see her presence here as a kind of tokenization. Sure, her character has a backstory, but why does she align herself with three white women who call themselves “mean girls,” and why does she have no relationship at all with the only other Black woman in the film?

For all the superficiality and shortcomings of “Queen Bees,” the film’s biggest draw, and strongest attribute, is its packed ensemble of iconic actors. Burstyn and Caan create the kind of chemistry that will make audiences care about their relationship and whether or not it will come to fruition. It’s easy to see why these talented performers are still booking jobs in their 70s and 80s because even without strong material, they alone make the film worth watching. (Strange, though, that the producers missed the opportunity to exploit “Third Rock from the Sun” nostalgia by pairing Curtin and co-star French Stewart in a scene together.)
“Queen Bees” won’t win any awards, and it is far from being a classic rom-com, but it’s certainly a film to consider if you’re taking your grandmother out to the movies. If nothing else, it’s trying to shine a spotlight on some older characters — and older character actors — and one can hope more films like this get made, only with a better sense of what womanhood and friendship looks like in the golden years.

“Queen Bees” opens in U.S. theaters and on demand June 11.

Source: thewrap


Interview and comments about the movie: USA TODAY