In what may be a first for cinema, “Queen’s Bees” directed by Michael Lembeck depicts a senior citizen using a mobile phone without difficulty. The senior in question is Helen, an independent woman played by Ellen Burstyn, who is calling the living center for elders who keeps sending her brochures. In a loud voice she tells the representative that she is not leaving her house, which is pleasant but seems a bit empty.
The problem is, she locks herself out of her house. This habit, and Helen’s alienation as a widow, are of mercenary concern to her grandson Peter (Matthew Barnes) and perhaps her daughter Laura (Elizabeth Mitchell). When a fire in a kitchen is in need of repair, Helen is forced to move to the living center – which she repeatedly insists will be a temporary base.
Here she meets the “Queen Bees” of the film’s title, a trio of tyrannical women led by Janet (Jane Curtin), Sally (Loretta Devine) and Margot (Ann-Margaret) who live in the community’s card room and cafeteria. rule over. When Sally tries to persuade Helen to assimilate herself with these power-holders, Helen protests that this is not high school. Sally replied that it was worse; “In high school we graduate. Here, we die.”
One need not bother comparing “Mean Girls”, as the dialogues in the film itself. “Queen Bees” is an entirely traditional comedy-drama by Walter Murphy right down to his saccharin score. (Yes “Beethoven’s FifthMan.) That said, it doesn’t ruin its impeccable cast, which also includes Christopher Lloyd and a notable play James Cain as Helen’s love interest. Each of these veterans bring more than charisma to their roles, and while the writing itself displays some snap (which it doesn’t often) the actors bite right into it.