Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Thelma & Louise

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, November 4, 2001

You shoot off a guy’s head with his pants down, believe me, Texas ain’t the place you want to get caught.

Special features

Commentary Track5
Deleted Scenes4

I’d forgotten just how good this Ridley Scott movie was. I’ve never seen it in the theater, only on television in chopped format. Seeing it in its original widescreen is night and day. The chopped version is also on the this DVD; I recommend avoiding it. Ridley Scott’s advertising background betrays him: he doesn’t just point the camera, he composes every frame.

DirectorRidley Scott
WriterCallie Khouri
Movie Rating6
Transfer Quality6
Overall Rating5
  • Letterbox
  • Pan and Scan
Thelma & Louise (Smoking): Thelma & Louise scene (Smoking)

Lowering her sex drive.

Susan Sarandon (as Louise) and Geena Davis (as Thelma) were perfectly cast. Geena Davis continues the sort of child-like flakiness that she used in “Beetlejuice”. Sarandon plays a thick-skinned, tough-as-nails waitress who warns two young girls that they shouldn’t smoke in one scene because smoking “lowers your sex drive,” and then in the next scene she lights up a cigarette herself. There’s no irony: Louise undoubtedly considers that smoker’s side-effect a bonus.

The story starts with Louise and Thelma planning a weekend getaway at her boss’s cabin in the woods. The theme of the movie comes out from the start: they’re doing this because their boss is trying to screw over his (soon-to-be ex) wife. The cabin is going to become hers as part of the divorce settlement. So until he has to hand over the keys, he’s letting all his friends use it, and even people he wouldn’t normally consider friends, such as Louise.

They load up fishing gear; Thelma loads up on girly-wear, and they head out. Thelma’s husband is a domineering, and probably cheating, asshole. Louise is out for a good time with her friend. Thelma is out for a good time, period. Towards the beginning of the movie, Louise asks Thelma, exasperated, if Darryl is her husband or her father because of the way she has to ask permission for everything. But Louise is definitely Thelma’s mother-figure at the beginning of the movie. And Thelma is Louise’s child-substitute. A telling moment occurs as they’re driving up to the cabin in Louise’s incredibly nice 1966 Thunderbird convertible. Louise lights up a cigarette while she’s driving. Thelma takes a cigarette and doesn’t light it up; she just pretends to smoke it while looking in the mirror. She’s just a child.

Thelma & Louise (Romantic): Thelma & Louise scene (Romantic)

You just can’t get more romantic than beer and dancing.

And, as far as men go, she is still just a child. She married her husband, Darryl, when she was eighteen--after dating him for four years. She’s never been required to grow up. But she’s ready to shed her child image even if she doesn’t quite know how. When Louise notes, shocked at Thelma’s drinking, that Thelma is usually more sedate, Thelma replies, “Well, I’ve had it up to my ass with sedate!”

There’s a conflict there, because while Louise is out for a good time with her friend, Thelma is out for a good time with anyone, preferably a man, a role her mother-figure cannot fulfill. The conflict begins in a bar where they stop “just for a few minutes”, and Thelma begins to like the smooth guy coming onto her. Louise tells her they have to leave; Louise heads into the bathroom to clean up, and it is full of women preening themselves for the men outside. This is an important scene; it helps explain Louise’s paranoia about the treatment of men vs. women. Men rule. What happens later was probably not unexpected by those who know Thelma’s new dancing partner; he’s probably already done the same to the barmaid who just rolls her eyes at him.

Thelma & Louise (Primping): Thelma & Louise scene (Primping)

Primping for the man.

The serving class has come to accept their abuse; the barmaid who was only surprised that “it didn’t happen sooner than this”; Thelma who agrees that her husband “is an asshole, most of the time I just let it slide”; even Louise has had to put up with constant abuse as a waitress. She left Texas to get away from it, but running away doesn’t help. It’s everywhere. It is only when Thelma brings her face to face with the results of “just putting up with it” that she says “no”—as forcefully as only a .38 can.

Harvey Keitel and Brad Pitt have good supporting roles, Keitel as the intelligent and sensitive local police officer, and Pitt as a young drifter with a nice butt for Thelma to lust after.

About the only thing I can really complain about is the car chase, which was way over the top and resembled something out of the Blues Brothers; I thought it was out of place in a movie like this, as if the movie wasn’t going to be allowed into the theaters if it didn’t have an incredible car chase in it. But it was just too much unnecessary mayhem.

Thelma & Louise (Laid): Thelma & Louise scene (Laid)

She either just had a lobotomy or her first orgasm.

There are only three extras on this disk, but two of them are very nice. The big one is the running commentary by director Ridley Scott. You have to choose the commentary under the “Languages” menu.

An alternate ending is also presented, along with a commentary by Ridley Scott about what went into the choice of which ending to use. The alternate ending, I felt, focused too much on Harvey Keitel, which would have been a poor choice in a movie about two women’s struggle against paternalism. Harvey Keitel was a really nice guy in the movie, but he pretty much epitomized male paternalism towards women. They were there for him to protect. Ridley Scott felt the same way about the alternate ending: “it took away from the girls,” he said in the commentary. He wanted to end the movie on the high end of the arc while the women were still in control.

Finally, the trailer is also on the disk. It’s pretty cheesy. No wonder I never bothered to see this movie in the theater.

I highly recommend this movie; it’s a fun movie about deeper issues, and is possibly the best female buddy movie out there.

Recommendation: Purchase

DirectorRidley Scott
WriterCallie Khouri
ActorsGeena Davis, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Keitel
Spoken languagesEnglish, French, Spanish
SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish
Special FeaturesCommentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Thelma & Louise…

For more about Geena Davis, you might also be interested in Beetlejuice.

For more about Ridley Scott, you might also be interested in Alien.

For more about Susan Sarandon, you might also be interested in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.