The movie came out two decades ago, but its message has been lost
When it was released in the summer of 1991, Thelma & Louise was declared "the first movie I've ever seen which told the downright truth" by a lesbian activist in Los Angeles and a "paean to transformative violence" by commentator John Leo. New York Daily News columnist Richard Johnson complained that it was "degrading to men" and "justifies armed robbery, manslaughter and chronic drunken driving as exercises in consciousness raising." With a handful of exceptions, women loved it.
The movie starred Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis as friends who set off on a road trip and become outlaws after Sarandon's character shoots a would-be rapist. May marked its 20th anniversary. In 1992, screenwriter Callie Khouri became one of a handful of women to win an Academy Award for best original screenplay, and Thelma & Louise earned more than $45 million at the U.S. box office. Sarandon and Davis were each nominated in the Best Actress category, and director Ridley Scott was nominated for Best Director.
At a screening of "Thelma & Louise" earlier this month, I was struck by how many lines of dialogue I remembered word for word. I was only 9 when it came out in theaters and I didn't see it until many years after it was released. When I finally did, at age 25, I was electrified. At 28, I was again entranced, silently mouthing my favorite lines along with Sarandon and Davis, laughing semi-hysterically at every sad-funny scene featuring Thelma's twitchy-eyed sexist jerk of a husband, and choking back a sob when Louise bade her final farewell to Jimmy.