Waiting to Exhale (1995) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I suppose that IMDb is probably the best site on the internet if you measure that by the difference between it and its nearest competitor. If you score IMDb at 100, I don't know if the next best film site is even a 25. I love the site and have visited it every day for years and years. Why am I saying this? I guess cuz I'm about to trash some elements of their movie "scores". The IMDb rating system has its flaws. It is dominated by films which appeal to young, white males. The most egregious example of that is that the execrable toy commercial known as Return of the Jedi is rated among the top 250 films of all time.

Waiting to Exhale is a chick flick, by any definition, including our official objective measurement. (The IMDb male score minus IMDb female score is 1.0 or more). It is a black chick flick. To elaborate, it is a gentle, mature black chick flick about powerful, educated, upper middle class women. To top it off, it does a healthy bit of male-bashing. In other words Waiting to Exhale is on the South Pole if IMDb's fan boys are on the North, so this puppy ain't never headed for the Top 250.

It's actually a pretty decent flick, much better than you'd expect from the 5.1 score at IMDb. It pulled in more than sixty million at the box office, Roger Ebert scored it at three stars and Rotten Tomatoes says it got 50% positive reviews.


Lela Rochon appeared in a see-through nightie that showed the bottom half of her body, front and rear. The frontal exposure looks like pubic hair, but I think it is only an illusion created by the design of the lingerie.

Now don't get me wrong, lads, I didn't enjoy it that much myself. Like most of you reading this, I'm into sports and guns and hookers and poker and fast cars and sizzling steaks and tall glasses of scotch and other manly, big penis stuff. This film has no squinty-eyed shoot-outs in dusty saloons, no car chases through the L.A. river, no gross belly laughs, and no sharks with frickin' laser beams. It has minimal nudity, and all the sex is presented from the women's point of view. In other words, it is missing all the things that make both life and the movies worthwhile. Watching it is like hanging out with Oprah for a couple of hours, pretending to be mature and evolved enough to meet her standards. But although it is not my kind of movie, I can recognize that the script tried to show the real problems faced by people in this demographic. Even the most successful and beautiful women find it as hard as the rest of us to find love, and have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find a prince. This is not an especially profound insight, and it is not particularly easy to sympathize with these women who have material comfort and each others' deep friendships for spiritual comfort, but at least the film tried to speak honestly about their lives, and the box office showed that many women were able to relate to the film's messages.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen, but letterboxed.

  • Mediocre transfer

  • No significant features.

It was directed by Forest Whitaker in a quiet, understated and subtle way that kept the film from degenerating into a sassy, high fivin', "you go, girlfriend" kind of thing, which it could easily have become. On the other hand, a little less dignity and a little more energy and humor might have made the film work better for me, because on the day I saw it, I left my vagina in my other suit.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: two and a half stars. James Berardinelli 2/4, Roger Ebert 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • A lot of people went to see this film - it grossed $67 million in its theatrical release, and has been a solid, steady renter ever since.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. This is not a masterpiece, but is a solid chick-flick. If you're into black chick-flicks, there aren't many choices. Pretty much just this and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. So I guess it must be something of a genre classic.

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