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Hollywood's Woman Problem, Part 1: Can You Spare a Buddy Picture?
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By Erich Vandussen
Erich Van Dussen's film reviews have been featured in newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and online for more than 20 years. He lives in the Finger Lakes region.
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My column in this week's papers looks at The Heat, a rare entry in the subgenre of female buddy comedies. How rare, you ask? How about fewer than 10 since the 1980s, according to New York Magazine?
It's hard to imagine Bette Midler being the epitome of anything, but it seems that her brief heyday as the queen of female buddy movies -- in Big Business with Lily Tomlin, Beaches with Barbara Hershey* and Outrageous Fortune with Shelley Long -- make her the standard bearer for a time when it wasn't quite so crazy to see two women together on screen. The Heat did very well this past weekend at the box office -- bringing in $40 million, and recouping its entire production budget in its first three days of release -- but Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig's last film before this one, made over $160 million in 2011 and changed absolutely nothing.
Despite numbering 51-ish percent of America's population, women are drastically under-represented in Hollywood -- behind the camera, to be sure, but also on screen, which doesn't really make any sense at all. Over the next few months I plan to explore this ridiculous inequity in this blog, but I'm not sure most of the posts won't simply end with some kind of expression of disgust. Some questions have answers, some problems have solutions; but this really seems to be a situation that can only be resolved by grabbing some studio executive by the lapels and shaking some sense into him. And yes, it'll be a "him" -- of that much we can be sure.
*Yes, I know, technically, Beaches wasn't a comedy. Technically.

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