Calendar Girl (1993)
Directed by John Whitesell
Written by Paul Shapiro
Starring Jason Priestley, Jerry O'Connell, Gabriel Olds, Joe Pantoliano, Steve Railsback
Release Date September 3rd, 1993
Published September 6th, 2023
Three teenage creeps decide to drive up to the home of a movie star because they believe she will have sex with them if they explain that they have been fans of hers for years. That's the premise of a comedy in which these three creeps are treated like harmless scamps on an adventure. Watching the movie Calendar Girl is a bleak reminder of how much our culture has dehumanized Marilyn Monroe and normalized any and all male desires as harmless parts of being a man. I'm going to be told that I am taking this too seriously and if you're the one saying that, you should keep reading, you have a lot to learn.
Calendar Girl stars Jason Priestley as Roy Darpinian, a troubled teenager with a distant father (Steve Railsback), who works as debt collector for the local mob. Roy is about to join the army and has only a few days before he leaves. Roy wants to spend these last few days with his best school pals, Ned (Gabriel Olds), and Dood (Jerry O'Connell). The three pals facing down having to get started on life post-High School decide that a road trip is in order. That road trip just happens to be a trip to Hollywood and a stop at Marilyn Monroe's house.
Ned, though the most bland of these three white bread dorks, is possibly the biggest creep. He carries around a bible with him wherever he goes. Nothing wrong with that except that it is not an actual bible. Rather, it's a serial killer level collage of photos and details about the life of Marilyn Monroe. So extensive is Ned's obsession with Marilyn that he has somehow located her actual home address. With no one to tell them not to, as this is a fully consequence free universe, the three friends steal a car and head to Hollywood.
There is an old proverb about a dog chasing a car and the ultimate question: what would the dog do if the dog had actually caught the car? This is an apt analogy for our three moronic protagonists in Calendar Girl. What do they do when they meet Marilyn Monroe? What is the ultimate goal? According to Roy, they 'Canoe' her. I'm not having a stroke here, I'm not mishearing something, that's what the character played by Jason Priestley makes very clear. He believes that he and his friends should 'Canoe' Marilyn Monroe. Those who take things literally are very confused right now. Do they want to take her on a canoe trip? No, they most assuredly do not want that.
No, for reasons that have broken my brain since I saw this abysmal movie, to 'Canoe' is to have sex. Roy believes that these three men who have never met Marilyn Monroe should have the goal of having sex with her when they meet her. He lays out how vulnerable Marilyn is having recently been fired from a movie and having recently parted ways with husband Henry Miller. It's the perfect time for three teenage creeps to go to her house and convince her to have sex with them. And somehow, a group of people made a movie with this concept and treat this idea as if it were a wacky, good-natured, adventure.
I feel as if I should not have to explain that this is wrong. And yet, there are people who are reading this and thinking 'well, so, it's a comedy.' This isn't funny! This is a disturbing and diseased notion. Going to the home of a celebrity with the aim of getting that celebrity to have sex with you, even if you view yourself as a harmless dorky teenager, is super creepy and messed up. This isn't an adventure, it's a cry for help. This is a diseased and overly privileged mindset. These are young men who feel entitled, for whatever reason, to the time and attention of a stranger. Beyond that, they appear to feel entitled to having sex with this female stranger. This is a horror movie not a wacky road trip comedy.
The fetishizing of Marilyn Monroe is among the darkest and most disturbing aspects of our popular culture. Marilyn was repeatedly dehumanized before and after her death and while Calendar Girl contains a scene that is a vague attempt at giving her human qualities there are far more scenes of these three creeps ogling her breasts and talking about 'Canoeing' her. Quite disgusting, but par for the course of our pop culture obsessions, Marilyn has no role to play in whether or not she wants to have sex with these three creeps, they just assume it is their destiny to have sex with Marilyn Monroe and we live in a culture that has fostered this behavior, normalized it, and made a joke of it.
No one involved in the making of Calendar Girl had a single ounce of self-reflection or self-awareness. They seem to believe that this is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and that if Marilyn were alive she should appreciate how much the characters in this movie admire her. Let's burst that balloon shall we. If I made a movie right now where me and two of my male friends traveled to California and went to Taylor Swift's house on the belief that we are such big fans she will want to have sex with us, we'd be thrown in jail and rightfully so. This isn't a wacky, madcap, adventure, it's a delusion that has been allowed to fester in our culture for far too long.
Calendar Girl is a signpost in American popular culture. Yes, the movie was a failure and is today, rightfully mostly forgotten but I don't think we should let it be forgotten. We should be bringing a movie like this back to the light as a reminder of what not to do. This is how not to pay tribute to a legend. This is how not to treat celebrities or strangers for that matter. You are not entitled to someone's time or attention simply because you believe that you admire them. This movie should be a guide to how not to treat or talk about women. There isn't a single female main character in Calendar Girl. There is no one who points out how wrong or creepy what these idiots are doing is.
At one point in this moronic movie, the main characters attempt to trick Marilyn Monroe into coming out of her house by bringing a cow to her house. Marilyn was an animal activist and animal lover and they thought that by having a cow outside in the rain, which they mimic with a garden hose, they would charm Marilyn into meeting them. When she sends her maid out to tell them to leave, the character of Roy uses the distraction to get into Marilyn's house, sneak into her bedroom and corner her to ask for a date. If you can't understand how truly deranged that is, you cannot be helped. You are part of the problem.
Calendar Girl was a recent subject of the Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast spinoff, Everyone's a Critic 1993. On the show, myself and co-hosts, Gen-Z'er M.J and Gen-X'er Amy, watch movies released 30 years ago and discuss how movies and culture have changed in the past three decades. It's an eye opening show as I hope this article conveys. I was alive when Calendar Girl was released, I was the same age, in fact, as the protagonists were supposed to be, 17 or 18 years old. I didn't notice the movie at the time nor did I realize then how truly unconscionable the premise was.
Calendar Girl was released four years after actress Rebecca Shaffer was murdered in the doorway of her home by a man who thought it was okay to just go to her house to see her. That story was still fresh in the minds of people in Hollywood where this movie is set, and still no one thought it was a bad idea to portray three obsessed male fans going to Marilyn Monroe's house and sneaking inside. No one paused for a moment to think that treating this story as a coming of age comedy adventure was a bad idea. It's good that we, as a culture rejected Calendar Girl, it was a failure at the time of its release but it says something ugly and disturbing that this movie was ever made and released.
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