Honoring the Heroine: Lauren Ames and Sandy Brozinsky

Just by looking at the two actresses it should be easy to guess that I will talk about a comedy today. Outrageous Fortune is not exactly highly acclaimed, and I can kind of see why. It is at its very core a very simple and kind of predictable story which requires a lot of suspension of disbelieve. It has one of the worst title sequence I have ever seen and the last scene lacks any proper built-up. And yet, I really like this movie. Mostly because of the way the two main actresses play off each other.

Sandy-and-Lauren

Lauren Ames (Shelley Long) is what I would call an overachiever who hasn’t achieved anything in her life yet. Coming from a privileged background, she has studied and educated herself in acting, and is used to being top of her class. Her big dream is to play Hamlet one day. But she never actually got an acting job so far, instead she is working as a sales girl when she isn’t busy perfecting her craft.

One day she is preparing for an audition for the change to partake in acting lessons by a famous stage legend when Sandy Brozinsky (Bette Midler) storms into the office. Borrowing the phone she calls the phone company, telling the guy on the line a bunch of lies in order to prevent her phone getting shut off for unpaid bills. Lauren, already high-strung out of nervousness and unable to stand her loud behaviour, intervenes when Sandy wants to make a second phone call. The two woman have a brief face-off during which it turns out that Sandy recently made some money by acting in a movie called “Ninja Vixen”. Spontaneously she decides to audition, too, and to Lauren’s ire she not only gets accepted, but with a stipend to boot. What both woman don’t know: They are in a relationship with the same man.

To summon up the movie: The first act is about the dislike those two woman feel towards each other, in which the movie takes great care to flesh out their characters – and to be honest, both of them are not particularly likable, even to the audience. It is not like they are annoying either, but the lecturing know-it-all and the lying and loud bragger are not exactly the type of persons most people would pick as friends. It is easy to understand why those two would clash.

In the second act starts when the two discover that they have been seeing the same man. Normally I would resist the notion that two woman, who just discovered that they have been cheated on would bother to fight over a guy like this, or going to great length to find him. In this case though, it works (mostly), because this is less about the guy in question and more about the dislike the two feel for each other. Motivated by their rivalry they both hunt the guy down and on their way, they discover that they kind of like each other after all.

My favourite is the third act, though, because that’s where the most thoughtful moments of the movie are. Lauren might be brittle, and Sandy might be brash, but once you get a glimpse behind the façade, you realise that they are both way more than that. Seeing them working together and developing a deep friendship and triumph in the end is the part which makes the movie worth a watch.

Quote:

Sandy: “Actors are just bullshitters who get paid.”

Lauren: “Nine years of ballet, asshole!”

With comedies, it is always a matter if one likes this brand of humour. If you like either of the main actresses, this should be fun for you, though.

 

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11 thoughts on “Honoring the Heroine: Lauren Ames and Sandy Brozinsky

  1. The divine Miss Bette can hardly do wrong for me so I’ll have to check this out. Thanks for writing!

    If you are looking for ideas I think an analysis of the women in How I Met Your Mother would be interesting. I’m a huge a fan and related to particularly the work/career struggles of both women. Just a suggesiton.

    • I am not into comedy shows in general, which is why I said from the get go that I would stick to drama series. To analyse HIMYM I would feel compelled to watch the whole show (which, as far as I heard, had an unsatisfying ending), and I am really not in the mood for that.
      Suggestions are always welcome.

      • Oh yeah I forgot you said that about dramas. The ending did suck but if you ever felt like it I could give you some episodes that feature the women and are good stand alones.
        What about the women of Downton Abbey? That’s honestly the only drama I really watch

      • Gave up on it during the first season. It is basically a long winded soap opera in costumes, and I didn’t found the characters (aside from the new manservant) particularly compelling. Most of them were cardboard characters which I could stand so long only because they were (mostly) well acted.

      • It is soapy but I like it but I can see how you wouldn’t. It’s gotten a bit drab lately so I hope they lighten it up a bit this season. The characters have shown more nuance as they have grown but still fit roles but for a strictly run, ordered society that works well for me.
        But yeah not for everyone I suppose. I like ER. That had some interesting women. Other than that I’m a comedy girl, always have been.

      • I like the most a good mix out of humour and drama…historical shows work for me, but only a certain kind of. I don’t like longwinded, never-ending storylines. I like it if I have the feeling that the show is working towards a certain point, if each season has one more or less concluded arc.

      • Yeah than HIMYM isn’t the show for you. I loved it but am still in morning over the crap finale. What a letdown.
        Everyone around me is nuts for Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad but they are too violent for my tastes and too cynical. I would like to enjoy more dramas but for some reason not many come out that interest me.
        I know its a comedy but the Golden Girls would be interesting to study from a feminist perspective .
        I’m actually the biggest fan of reality TV shows like Survivor and Big Brother. I like talking about strategy and wondering what the people will do and why. I really have been enjoying a show called The Goldbergs which makes me laugh.
        I don’t like crime shows because usually they are too violent and bloody for me. Good thing there’s something for everyone these days. 😉

      • Can’t stand reality TV.

        And I agree, GoT and Breaking Bad are too violent for my tastes – well, actually they are too graphic. I don’t mind sex and violence, but you can portray both more tastefully. Plus. I actually read the books GoT are based on and they are slow. I mean really slow. You spend ages on the story arc of a character which then suddenly gets killed off and you wonder why so much space was wasted on this when it lead to nowhere.

        Golden Girls is one of the few comedy show I did watch (and consider still watchable). I might make an exception for the girls at one point.

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