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April 10, 2016

KYLE SMITH HAS SOME 25TH ANNIVERSARY THOUGHTS: As a feminist film, ‘Thelma & Louise’ fails miserably.

Even on its own terms, as a bluntly obvious feminist parable, the movie is a self-contradictory failure. Its regrettably schematic screenplay (which writer Callie Khouri won an Oscar for) shouts its points in the manner of a freshperson term paper from an only intermittently coherent Womyn’s Studies major.

You may recall the movie as a date-rape revenge saga wrapped up in a freewheeling outlaw adventure, but really it’s a story of two idiotic hysterics who make a series of daft decisions that are nobody’s fault but their own. Stupidity and hot tempers, not entrenched sexism, are the causes of their problems. . . . It’s as if Khouri is trying to paint feminists as given to hysterical overreaction. Teachable moments get garbled — just days after learning that being alone with a strange man is not a great idea, Thelma picks up a hitchhiker, who turns out to be a criminal, simply because he’s Brad Pitt, suggesting the lesson for women is “Be careful of men you don’t know, except the cute ones.”

The movie works better if you just think of it as a misogynist tale about unbelievably ditzy women who lose what remains of their reason under pressure and suffer the ultimate punishment.

As a colleague said at the time, what really happens in the movie is that two women get out from under male supervision, immediately do a lot of stupid things, then commit suicide. And the only voice of sanity is the older white male cop (Harvey Keitel), whom they ignore.