Mrs. Henderson Presents is a comedy about British manners and a stiff upper lip with a bit of drama tossed in. It features a stellar cast with Dame Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, the lovely Kelly Reilly, and a solid director, Stephen Frears. Unfortunately, though this is a fun enough little movie, the sum of the parts does not quite make for a great comedy DVD or a great movie.
Recently widowed Mrs. Henderson finds life quite dreary and on the advice of a close friend takes up a hobby. In this case, this outspoken and headstrong woman decides to open her own theatre. She hires Vivian Van Damm as theatre manager and knows (and, unfortunately hopes) she has found her man when he stands up to her. At first the Windmill Theatre is quite successful but when everybody else copies the formula, Van Damm must come up with something else: nudity.
Nudity sells and this is the reason Mrs. Henderson Presents is such a hit show. It is also the reason this movie got so much attention. It is all tasteful of course and I am sure there is some artistic point to it. WW II then starts to influence the goings on at the Windmill Theatre and this plays a big part in the later half of the movie. Again, I am sure there is some kind of great bloody reason for it but somehow the story doesn't quite make you care. One of the girls gets involved with a soldier and, interestingly enough, the end of that story is not quite what you would expect.
Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins are great on screen together and they bring a lot more to the characters than there really is to them. Perhaps this is Mrs. Henderson Presents' flaw in the end: the actors are bigger than the characters they were given and their interaction more interesting than the story.