‘Beaches’ isn’t bad… for a hokey chick flick

[rating=3]Starring: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard, Spalding Gray, James Read, Lainie Kazan
Director(s): Garry Marshall
Writer(s): Screenplay by Mary Agnes Donoghue; Based upon the novel by Iris Rainer Dart

John Heard makes a move on childhood friends Bette Midler (2nd from r.) and Barbara Hershey in 'Beaches'
John Heard makes a move on childhood friends Bette Midler (2nd from r.) and Barbara Hershey in ‘Beaches’

I think it’s probably fair to say that of all chick flicks, Beaches is about as chick-flicky as you can get.

And it’s directed by a man!

I’m not sure how Garry Marshall ended up being so good at making films for women, but it sure seems like he’s got the nack for it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but come on. Pretty WomanPrincess Diaries. I mean, I don’t even think he’s really made a film that’s been for men.

I say again, I’m not knocking the guy for it. He’s a great talent, both in movies and television. I just think it’s impressive, is all.

Anyway, to be honest, Beaches is a good movie. A little hokey, sure, but good. Now, before I lose my membership card to “Machismo ‘R’ Us”, let me just say that the film does have a few laughs. I mean, the musical number about the invention of the bra is funny.

No, really. It is. Come on, guys, work with me here. It’s a song about a guy who tries to invent a boulder holder! How is that not funny?

All right, look all you want, but dammit it’s funny. It’s also one of the more enjoyable songs in the film. My other favorite is when Midler sings during her first off Broadway performance. But I have to say, “Wings Beneath My Wings” was good at first, but got tiring pretty quick. I actually can’t stand listening to it now.

Beaches, for those of you not in the know, is a story about two women who share a special friendship. They met as children, and while they lived far apart, remained friends through a series of letters. They meet face to face years later, where romances and careers cause them to split apart again. However, they always finds ways of meeting again, and this continues until one of them gets sick.

It really is a good story. And the performance by Midler is one of her finest, but I’m not sure what that means exactly, because she pretty much seems to be playing herself. I’m really not a Barbara Hershey fan. I don’t think she’s a terribly good actress, so I’ve never understood why she kept getting parts. The supporting cast here is also great, including John Heard, Lainie Kazan, and the late Spalding Gray.

It surprised me that it took so long for them to put together a “special edition” DVD of Beaches. It was a hit movie, and I’m sure there’s a fan base that would have eagerly gobbled this up earlier. But, that’s neither here nor there, because it’s on shelves now. And it’s pretty good, too.

The first feature is “Beaches Bloopers”, which is a pretty clever collection of goofs and gags that had been put together for the film’s wrap party back in 1988. There are a few good laughs here, featuring flubs from pretty much every member of the cast. Next comes two musical bits. The first is the music video for “Wings Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler, which is very 80s. Then there’s a clip from “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Songs” featuring Midler.

Mayim Bialik, who plays the younger version of Midler’s character, discusses her experience working on the movie. It’s actually kind of weird seeing her again after all these years. Sometime after Beaches she went on to star in Blossom, a nauseating if popular sitcom that ran for five years.

However, the most entertaining part of the features has to be the commentary by director Marshall. He’s funny, and has a lot of good stories about the making of the film. It’s easily one of the most entertaining audio commentaries I’ve heard in quite a long time.

Fans of Beaches will undoubtedly love this DVD. The video and audio quality of the film is good, and the special features provide just enough to make it a great treat for a ladies night at the movies.

Okay, I’m done. I’m gonna go watch some mindless action film with lots of blood and gratuitous nudity now.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 2 hrs., 3 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

Leave a Reply