Helen Wilson (Ellen Burstyn) is an older woman living independently. She is consistently nagged to move into a senior’s home by the regular flyers arriving in her letterbox and her neighbours’ continual encouragement to sell her home given her age. Helen receives weekly visits from her Grandson, who she is quite proud of despite being rather distant from her daughter and hasn’t spoken to her in some time.
One night, while Helen is cooking a meal on the stovetop, she takes some trash out to the bins and finds herself locked out of her own home. While trapped outside, a large fire begins, resulting in massive amounts of damage. We learn that this isn’t the first time a major incident has occurred that could have cost Helen’s life. With her home currently unavailable, Helen decides to finally speak with her daughter and agrees to stay at Palm Grove, a senior home. Helen is determined to only stay at Palm Groves for a month while the fire damage in her home is being repaired by insurance.
As Helen begins to settle in at Palm Grove, she misses her own home, but thanks to her Grandson, she is encouraged to get involved with various activities and meet other people. However, she soon has a run-in with a group of women known as the Queen Bees, consisting of Janet (Jane Curtin), Sally (Loretta Devine) and Margot (Ann-Margret). But Helen stands up for herself, impressing the Queen Bees, especially Janet. Now Helen’s new life is full of new experiences, including being part of new friendships and romance with Palm Groves newest resident, Dan (James Caan).
Queen Bees is best described as a romantic comedy with some moments of touching drama along the way. The comedy here is quite corny, including older ladies talking about hook up and love as if they were teenagers all over again. While some jokes just didn’t work for me, there were many times I was surprised into a giggle by various one-liners from the leading ladies. What makes this film enjoyable is its heartfelt story about Helen and the various characters in this film who are all tackling something in life, whether it is health, family, or love. There are positive messages here that I truly enjoyed, which focus on the power of friendship and moving forward from your past.
The performances here, for the most part, are great. The actresses in the Queen Bees were quite pleasing, but the film’s lead, Helen, played by Ellen Burstyn, didn’t always work for me. At times I felt her lines of dialogue were more over the top than required. Helen’s relationship with her Grandson also feels a little odd and corny, like some of the film’s comedy. The romantic aspect is nice, and I found myself smiling as things unfolded, even being slightly surprised by the reveals along the way. I also enjoyed seeing actor James Caan on-screen, who can still deliver a wonderful and witty performance.
Overall, while the comedy might seem corny, I’m surprised and delighted to say how much fun I had with this film, and I found myself smiling for most of its runtime. It’s a light-hearted comedy that also carries nice moments of drama and even an element of romance along the way. For the most part, the performances are great, especially from Jane Curtin, Ann-Margret, and even James Caan. Some moments do feel slightly unfitting or over the top, but this is still an entertaining feature carrying a range of positive messages for all ages.