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These old girls just wanna have fun, despite obstacles
Wild Oats, a tepid comedy about two elderly women who make hay while the sun - and opportunity - shines, is no match for what actually happened behind the scenes as the producers struggled to secure financing and confirm the cast. Various delays, last-minute changes and unscripted setbacks presented veteran actress Shirley MacLaine with enough material for a book - which she promptly wrote - about the making (or more accurately the undoing) of the film.
Her book, Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure, makes light work of the problems that plagued the film and was published late last year. It also provides an inside look at the chaos that can afflict a low-budget indie film. "Why am I here? Are we going to shoot a movie ... or ourselves?" she writes.
Given the dire financial straits and the many obstacles along the way, it's commendable that MacLaine and her fellow cast members appear to have taken a glass-half-full approach, deciding to make the most of the situation.
Appropriately enough, the film - directed by Andy Tennant and written by Gary Kanew and Claudia Myers - begins with a funeral. After her husband dies, retired schoolteacher Eva Fenton (MacLaine) receives an insurance check mistakenly made out for five million instead of fifty thousand dollars.
Her fun-loving friend Maddie (Jessica Lange) encourages her to do the wrong thing by taking the windfall and head for a luxury vacation to the Canary Islands.
There, they meet Lacey (Billy Connolly), a suave (though slightly forgetful) Brit who offers to show them around. In a casino Eva wins a spectacular amount at blackjack, but the scent of a scam fills the air.
If that isn't enough, Eva and Lacey have senior-citizen sex while Maddie sinks her cougar claws into an unsuspecting young hunk (Jay Hayden).
Meanwhile, insurance company investigator (Howard Hesseman) is hot on their trail in a bid to recover the funds. He explains the situation to Eva's daughter Crystal (Demi Moore) and together they head for the islands, where the sillier-by-the-minute storyline calls for a run-in with a shady wine merchant (Santiago Segura).
There's a running gag involving Eva being recognised by her former high school students but there aren't nearly enough laughs to sustain the comedy.
Despite the efforts of MacLaine and her fellow geriatrics, a weak script and slipshod production values doom the film from the start. Eva and Maddie are no Thelma and Louise, even if there is a hint of wrinkly charm to be detected in their escapades. They may be advanced in years but these old girls just wanna have fun - and nobody should deny them that.