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Caregiver Rants and Reviews of 3 Cancer Movies

Updated on June 30, 2014
Teacup and saucer.
Teacup and saucer. | Source


I have an ax to grind into the backs of cinema make-up professionals and directors.

I don’t like gratuitous gore, but some of the films coming out are unfairly portraying individuals with cancer as robust as Olympic athletes. Really?!?

Some of the films are as unrealistic about cancer as children pretending. If kids played cowboys and Indians, or World War II combat, or cops and robbers, the person getting killed clutched her chest dramatically and fell over stone dead. Healthy one moment, suffering two seconds, then dead.

Therefore, this is a commentary on the depiction of cancer in three fiction (in contrast to biopic) movies.

The Calendar Girls

I rate this film as excellent. Not only is it a great story; the cancer patient actually LOOKS and ACTS like a cancer patient. In this case it is a husband who progresses from “normal looking” to puffy-faced and able to sip only a few drops from a child’s juice box. The caregiver wife suffers through watching the slow decline. That is the cancer with which I am acquainted. Three happy faces for realism.

Calendar Girls Rating

Plus 3.
Plus 3. | Source

Y Tu Mama Tambien

(Do not read this if you are planning to see the film and don’t want it ruined for you.)

This film is meritorious on many levels and I do recommend it on the whole. A Latino buddy of mine went to a lecture at Harvard in which the film was touted as a disguised means of showing the extreme poverty in Mexico. Also, it is an engaging coming of age story, conflict between the socio-economic classes story, and more.

However, there is an extremely attractive woman in her twenties who trots around in her bikini and serves as a sexual mentor for two teen boys. One learns at the end that she has terminal cancer. Oh, come on! She’s all bouncy, all perky and energetic, yet has some symptom (unknown to the film audience) leading her to learn she has a diagnosis of cancer? Bah, humbug. Four very unhappy faces.

Y Tu Mama Tambien Rating

Minus 4.
Minus 4. | Source

The Bucket List

Alright, my review for this movie is bi-polar.

The scenes in the first part of the film occurring in the hospital are pretty respectable. The only possible improvement I could suggest would be to change the skin color of the patients to a pale-purple-brown chemo-induced yuckiness. That is minor complaint. The movie did a fine job, until…

Until the two major characters learn they have no hope in hell and only three months to live. Then, they are miraculously blessed by the fountain of healthy youth. Suddenly they have no problems, tons of energy, no need for naps or moving slowly, and begin eating and drinking like 30-year-old playboys. Hello, the opposite occurs at the end of life in real “cancer land.” This is a fantasy. In fact, the whole movie is a pleasant, light fairy tale which could be a metaphor for the poem “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May.”

So, the rating faces are both faces happy and unhappy for this flick.

The Bucket List Rating

Positive 1 plus negative 2 = minus 1.
Positive 1 plus negative 2 = minus 1. | Source

Rated All Positive

This article focuses mostly on whether the cancer of a character in the film is depicted realistically. Obviously, one can see from my opinion that there are films which do a great dis-service by making cancer as delightful as eating one's favorite ice cream. Comments from cancer caregivers are welcome!

Photos, drawings, and text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan


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