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The First Wives Club (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A trio of jilted wives, former college friends who meet after years apart at a mutual friend's funeral, compare notes on their terrible husbands and begin plotting their revenge, in this 1996 comedy starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton.

The First Wives Club is the comedy from 1996 starring the trio of one-time big box office Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler. Here in the more advanced stages of their careers they tackle the roles of three Manhattanites, old college friends reunited after one (Stockard Channing) commits suicide. Elise (Hawn) is an out of work now and her husband and producer Bill (Victor Garber) wants a divorce along with half of her money. Brenda (Midler) helped her husband Morton (Dan Hedaya) build his successful chain of electronics stores, but now he has left her for a much younger (and slimmer) woman. Annie’s (Keaton) husband Aaron (Stephen Collins) has cheated on her throughout their marriage and shown her no respect, and now he’s finally just leaving her. The jilted women, finally together again after years apart, collect their notes on what their terrible husbands have done to them and plot to get back at them.

The First Wives Club was heralded as a film portraying women’s empowerment, especially for those middle-aged women of the boomer generation. In fact, it is a mildly amusing comedy that never allows any of the women in the film to really stretch their comedic talents and does nothing more than wallow in the most surface level cliches in the ongoing gender wars. The cheating husband, the jilted wife, the skinny young mistress, the washed-up old actress…and it continues. That this film begins with a woman throwing herself off a building over a man should tell everyone everything. This film is only rescued by the ability of Middler, Keaton, and Hawn to elevate the most milquetoast of comedies into something better than it is.

The Video

The First Wives Club comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodement from the Paramount Presents line. Paramount doesn’t provide any specific details on the provenance of this new release other than to say it is “remastered from a new film transfer.” Given that the majority of the Paramount Presents line has been restored from the original camera negatives in brand new 4K scans and that this film is currently available digitally in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR, it’s like a safe bet it is also a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. It certainly looks that way given the richness of detail and presentation of the grain structure on the disc. Some may not like the amount of grain present, especially in a comedy like this, where thing tend to look a little tidier, more pristine. I think it looks great even if the overall palette of the film is just a little bland and cold. Details are quite crisp, and depth of field is dimensional. Crush isn’t an issue in the darker areas. The Blu-ray actually looks a little more detailed and has slightly inkier blacks than the 4K digital stream to my eyes.

The Audio

The original audio is provided in a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. As to be expected for a comedy there isn’t much going on with the sound design in this mix and sound remains front-heavy and stagnant much of the time, with dialogue squarely in the center channel. Surrounds carry subtle atmospheric effects that offer just a bit of a sense of spaciousness in certain scenes, such as when the women are in the restaurant or in the city streets. Dynamics are in a limited range, but this isn’t a hindrance given the nature of the mix.

The Supplements

This Paramount Presents release is rather barebones, but the packaging and interview with the screenwriter make it a nicely collectible edition in this line.

  • Paramount Presents Collectible slipcover with foldout of original poster art
  • Insert featuring stills from the film
  • Digital Copy Code
  • Filmmaker Focus with Screenwriter Robert Harling (1080p; 00:10:57)
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD)

The Final Assessment

The First Wives Club has more renown for its cast, which also includes heavyweights like Maggie Smith, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Victor Garber in addition to the three fabulous leads, than it is for the film itself. The comedy is only mildly amusing or memorable, but it is worth a watch on a slow day especially in this gorgeous new transfer from the Paramount Presents line.

The First Wives Club is out on Blu-ray June 28, 2022 from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Rating Certificate: PG (for thematic elements, some mild language and sensuality)
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment | Paramount Presents
  • Director: Hugh Wilson
  • Written By: Olivia Goldsmith (based on the novel by) | Robert Harling (screenplay by)
  • Run Time: 102 Mins.
  • Street Date: 28 June 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English Audio Description | French DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH | French

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A trio of jilted wives, former college friends who meet after years apart at a mutual friend's funeral, compare notes on their terrible husbands and begin plotting their revenge, in this 1996 comedy starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton.The First Wives Club (Blu-ray Review)