Madonna’s Who’s That Girl Review
At last, a review of Madonna’s Who’s That Girl. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but life comes first most of the time.
Along with Evita, I’d say that maybe this is Madonna’s finest acting moment and, come on, the film isn’t that bad? Whether you like Madonna or not, Who’s That Girl is a hilarious movie!
I think the bad reviews that Who’s That Girl got at the time were pure bashing, envy and hatred, because this is an absolutely hilarious crime and romance jaunt. Typical screwball comedy at its best, there’s never a dull moment. On the contrary, the film is jam-packed with exceptionally memorable moments that you remember forever (mostly because you’ll watch it again and again).
Who’s That Girl Box Office
And in fact, Who’s That Girl didn’t do that badly at the box office.
The film was released to a total of 944 theatres, with an extra 66 being added later. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $2.5 million ($5.63 million in 2019 dollars), becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of that week.
Ok, the following week Who’s That Girl had a 60% decline in sales but, in the end, it was placed at 97 on the top 100 movies of 1987 list and ended up being box office bomb, totalling a gross of $7.3 million ($16.43 million in 2019 dollars) worldwide. After all, it wasn’t THAT bad?
What did the critics say about Who’s That Girl then?
This isn’t going to be an account of what The New York Times, or The Washington Post wrote about the film. If you want to know what each of the newspapers said at the time, you can see the Wikipedia article that refers to Who’s That Girl and you´ll find much information on this Madonna movie, with its positive and negative reviews and the sources.
But I’d like to make a very brief summary of what they said and how Who’s That Girl was received by the critics. In general, the film received mixed reviews but most agreed that the film AND Madonna were both funny and that they did laugh a lot (isn’t this the point of any comedy?). That Madonna’s great at one-liners and a truly engaging comedian.
Others were less positive, bashing mainly Madonna, saying it was a bad performance, a bad example to her fans, etc.
Madonna’s own view of Who’s That Girl
This is what Madonna said about Who’s That Girl:
I think the movie did badly in America because I upstaged it with my tour. People were confused about the connection between the record, the tour and the movie because they all had the same title. I also think there are people who don’t want me to do well in both fields. I had to really fight to get any respect from the music business and now I guess there are some people who feel that I ought to be grateful for that respect and stick to music.
My view of Who’s That Girl as a Madonna fan
As a Madonna fan, I went to see the movie at the time of its release in Madrid, but I find that today, 33 years after, it hasn’t lost its folly and fun.
I think that Madonna has got a comedian side and a great sense of humour and she has demonstrated it many times. This is the only comedic role of her entire career and she nailed it. Madonna is hilarious in Who’s That Girl, being able to NOT play herself* as she did in Desperately Seeking Susan, for example, and carrying the whole film along with a fine performance. (*I wanted to emphasise that she was able to NOT play herself, simply because Madonna’s got such a sturdy personality that it must be really hard to get rid of it whilst filming).
I have always appreciated the film because it makes me laugh so much, it’s speedy, and visually playful. Compared to nowadays comedies, which feel too sanitized and purged, Who’s That Girl emerges 33 years after as a light-hearted, entertaining, charming, clever, and above all, unpretentious movie that calls for nostalgia.
Sure, Who’s That Girl will not go down as one of the best comedies in history, but it’s a lot of fun to watch and the main 4 songs Causing a Commotion, Can’t Stop, Who’s That Girl and The Look of Love are fantastic tracks (the first being my favourite of them).
My favourite one-liners in Who’s That Girl
The film is full of them, but there are two or three I crack myself with. Not in order of preference!
When Nikki and Laudon go into Cartier
Loudon’s a very busy guy. He’s got a hectic schedule but, having met Nikki, he misses some of his appointments. What he must do without fail is to pick up Wendy’s wedding ring, as they are getting married the next day. Loudon and Nikki go to Cartier, and the shop assistant wonders where on Earth a piece of work like Nikki came from. So he asks Loudon. It’s Nikki, however, who’s quick and smart enough to answer the assistant’s nosey questions:
Jewellery Guy: I don’t recognize Madame, Sir? An out-of-town guest?
Nikki: Out-of-town, sort of. I’m Loudon’s, uh, cous — Mr. Trott’s sister
Jewellery Guy: Sister? I wasn’t aware Mr. Trott had a sister
Nikki: Been away a few years
Jewellery Guy: Boarding school?
Nikki: Boarding school, right.
Jewellery Guy: Switzerland?
Nikki: Excuse me?
Jewellery Guy: I said, was the school Swiss?
Nikki: Sure. Sure, one of the Swissest
Laudon at the ER
After picking Nikki up and a few other “adventures”, Laudon’s heart can’t take as much excitement and ends up having what appears to be a stroke. He’s rushed into ER in a stretcher and just wants to be away from Nikki, as she is the reason why he’s having a heart attack, but nobody pays any attention to his pleas and the nurse, assuming Nikki’s his wife, asks her the typical questions:
Nikki: Oh God, he’s so young!
Nurse: Are you his wife?
Nurse: I’m going to need some information. What’s the patient’s name?
Nurse: Uh-huh. Loudon what?
Loudon and Nikki end up in Wendy’s apartment. Their appearance not the most appropriate, their presence not the most convenient. Wendy scolds Loudon because her bed-and-kitchen shower is taking place. “You’re not supposed to be here”, she says. After that, Nikki appears and Wendy asks Loudon who this woman is. Nikki steps in, as usual, and says she’s his cousin from Atlanta:
Nikki: Nikki Sue Trott. The Atlanta Trotts with the three T’s. Give us a kiss.
Nikki: I just love that little thing you’re wearin’. Loudon, she’s got the cutest little figure. What a cute, teeny tiny, almost non-existent little figure. I’ll mingle.
I love that bit.
Director of Who’s That Girl, James Foley
As per the director, James Foley. He also filmed the dramatic and haunting At Close Range with Sean Penn & Christopher Walken, which it didn’t go far either. However it’s also a great movie in my opinion. So maybe the director was a little underrated at the time? I didn’t find the direction (in either movie) particularly bad or mediocre. I just don’t understand what people (and critics) expect from a comedy, to be honest.
Who’s That Girl is funny and Madonna is at her best. The 80s were plagued with cheesy movies that no one wants to remember if it isn’t for nostalgia, but this one is truly remarkable amongst them, with lots of fun and wise cracks.
As I said, Who’s That Girl isn’t an award-worthy comedy, nor is Madonna. However this goes both ways, they aren’t worthy of an Oscar, but they don’t deserve Raspberry Awards either, which they did.
I just don’t get why some people continue to put this movie and Madonna down. It’s as if they expected her to prove she was an Oscar performance artist, or as good at acting as she was at being an artist*, which wasn’t the point at all. The point was to have a few laughs and she did just what her character demanded. To all those stiff critics and public, just don’t take the movie, nor Madonna, that seriously and have a little fun.
are those who criticised her and scrutinised every little thing she did. “They” didn’t even recognise her talent as a singer and performer back then, let alone her talent as an actress, and insisted from day one that she wouldn’t last long, not even in the music business.
Little did they know she’d be the shrewd business woman she became and the amazing artist that she is. She proved them wrong and went on to become one of the greatest artists the world has known, whether they like it or not, whether they liked her or not. As she herself said in her Woman of the Year 2016 Award speech, “I think the most controversial I ever did was to stick around.”
Ole, ole y ole.