Tuesday 18th January 2022

Mrs Henderson Presents (12A)
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Seven minute Oscar winner Judi Dench stars as the eponymous Laura Henderson in this enjoyable but unoriginal British comedy. When her husband dies, Mrs Henderson is left an extremely wealthy and lonely woman in 1930s London. However, her friends advise her that the advantage of widowhood is that she can spend her husband's money on whatever she wants without the old chap interfering. She therefore invests in the Windmill Theatre and hires Mr Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run the theatre in whatever way he chooses.

She gets 'em out
She gets 'em out

Of course, she's a meddling old lady with nothing to do and plenty of time on her hands, meaning Bob doesn't quite get the free reign he anticipated. They forge a successful, bickering, love-hate working relationship and their first idea of producing a non-stop musical revue goes down a storm with the London crowd.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for all the other theatres in London to use the same idea and so Henderson and Van Damm decide the new way forward is to steal their ideas from Paris. After some serious persuading and cajoling, they get permission to put on a stage show with nudey bits in it, the catch being the naked people are not allowed to move. That, apparently, is the difference between art and something less savoury.

If you're thinking at this point that it might be a good opportunity to go and watch some naked chicks, you'd be right, but be warned there's a few men with their kits off too, so unless you're prepared to see Bob's little Hoskins, beware!

When the Second World War kicks off, the Windmill struggles to stay open and the employees have to club together to get through the tough times. However, with the exception of a few scenes, it feels like the war is rather trivialised and doesn't have very much impact, bearing in mind the terrible events that were occurring. I can only assume that this is because the film is represented from Mrs Henderson's point of view, and as a well-off aristocrat, she was largely unaffected by the war.

Mrs Henderson Presents is really quite amusing in places. It's a fairly typical stiff upper lip British wartime film that is designed to make us all feel good and in that respect, it does exactly what it says on the tin. However, it is fairly uninspired and unoriginal and seems like it would be more at home on BBC 1 on a Sunday night than in multiplex's across the country. In fact, the director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things) admits the idea for the film came from a failed TV series. So, if Judi Dench vehicles are your thing, then it's definitely worth watching, but I think most guys will probably want to give it a miss.

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Length: 103 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 25th November 2005

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