Better refill your anti-depressant prescriptions.

Bob Hoskins Judi Dench

The 2006 awards season promises to be awash with serious socially relevant message movies. And these dark themes are already leaving screening audiences feeling hopeless, helpless and numb.

Kinda hard to be Christmas cheery after watching racism, rape and murder in "Crash," corrupt politicians and unethical AIDS drug suppliers in "The Constant Gardener," terrorists and revenge-seekers in "Munich" and terrorist recruiting clerics, corrupt Arab kings, U.S. politicians and greedy oil companies in "Syriana."

But then there’s "Mrs. Henderson Presents," a delightful, deliciously charming movie based on the true story of a feisty, wealthy widow (Judi Dench) who buys a ramshackle London theater and hires the fiercely stubborn Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run it.

With Mrs. Henderson’s considerable money and political pull and Van Damm’s stage expertise and moxie, they put on a wildly successful revue at the Windmill Theatre that mimics the shockingly bare theatrics at Paris’ Moulin Rouge.

But it’s not all bare boobs and buttocks. When Hitler begins his blitz of London, Henderson and her troupe show fighting spirit. Windmill was the only theatre in London that stayed open during the worst bombings from September 1940 to May 1941.

Word is The Weinstein Co. plans to fight the good fight with Oscar campaigns for Dench (best actress) and Hoskins (best supporting actor). They will also be submitting the film in other categories such as best costume and best production design as well as for the best ensemble cast category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Judging from the applause, chuckles and sniffles at a recent Beverly Hills screening, "Mrs. Henderson" may not be such a longshot. After all, nobody does imperious upper-crusty with a meltingly sweet filling like Dame Judi. And move over, Harvey Keitel and Ewan McGregor. Hoskins’ full frontal nude is worth the price of admission. And Dench’s reaction to it? Priceless.

"Mrs. Henderson" premieres in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 5, at the Cecchi Gori Fine Arts Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard, with a star-studded reception afterward at the Four Seasons Hotel. Dench, Hoskins and two of their costars Kelly Reilly and Will Young are confirmed to attend fully clothed.

Photo: Bob Hoskins and Judi Dench light up the screen in "Mrs. Henderson Presents."
(The Weinstein Co.)

Posted by:LATimes