The Women: Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Eva Mendes. Written and directed by Diane English and based on the script for the 1939 film by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin (which was based on the original play by Clare Boothe Luce).

Oh how I wanted to like this movie—it’s all-star cast of women bringing a 21st century edge to the 1939 classic, The Women. Especially after reading popular M2W® presenter Marti Barletta’s recent Sex and the City: The Movie review where she longed for more female “buddy” flicks that showed smart women handling real-world situations. The Women was set to be that kind of movie for me—and, I thought, would show the world once and for all the true power and beauty of female friendships.

The movie follows the life of Connecticut wife and mother, Mary Haines (Ryan) whose perfect life is turned upside down when she discovers her husband is having an affair (Mendes). Her friends (Bening as the high-end magazine editor, Messing as the mom and Pinkett Smith as the lesbian novelist) offer support and encouragement as Haines deals with this sudden reversal of fortune and tries to discover her true self. The plot sounds good enough, but somehow the movie failed to connect with me and the other three women that I took along for the ride. So, where did it fail and what can brands learn?

1.  First, these characters were handling real world situations in very unreal ways. Marriage, babies, careers—these are real world things happening to women today, yet these characters didn’t seem to address them in any real kind of way. Everything sort of came together too easily—finding answers through the creation of “inspiration boards” or getting a makeover.

Brand lesson learned: Don’t make life seem easier than it is—especially when dealing with real issues affecting women.

2.  There was a lack of real female emotion. The movie seemed to say that if you are a strong woman, you should not show emotion.

Brand lesson learned: Today’s women have come to embrace their emotional personalities—showing strength through their emotions, not hiding from them.

3.  The characters seemed one-dimensional. While the characters represented a wide-variety of women (from moms to lesbians), they were painted so thinly that it was hard to relate to any one of them.

Brand lesson learned: Avoid stereotypes and work to connect with women on various levels.

The movie did work on one front—Mary’s daughter, Molly (India Ennenga). In a society obsessed with perfect women and their bodies, this preteen girl shows just how insecure young girls feel about their self-image and gave the adult women an opportunity to address such issues. As the mom of a daughter, I walked away with a deeper understanding of how very important it is for us to continue to have a real dialogue with young girls about real beauty in the world. The movie partnered with Dove and did a wonderful documentary about the women behind The Women—where a teenage girl actually interviews the cast and crew on what they consider to be real beauty. It is insightful and real—something the movie itself seemed to lack.