MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS (Stephen Frears). 103 minutes. Opens Sunday (December 25). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Mrs. Henderson Presents is an entertaining middlebrow romp about an oddball couple fighting censorship and loneliness in pre-second-world-war London.
Recently widowed aristocrat Laura Henderson ( Judi Dench ) buys up the derelict Windmill Theatre, hires a Jewish businessman named Vivian Van Damm ( Bob Hoskins ) to manage it and then decides to put on all-nude revues to draw in the masses.
Director Stephen Frears doesn't take the material too seriously, and in some scenes moves his camera around playfully in homage to musical comedies of the era. Dench breezes through her first big-screen role since Mrs. Brown, while Hoskins and newcomer Kelly Reilly add strong support. Only when the script tries to convince us of the importance to young soldiers of seeing naked women does it come across as maudlin and mawkish.