Lifetime had the bright idea to remake the cult classic Beaches. I had no expectation of this going well. None. Still, I knew my ass was going to watch it. I mean, it’s Beaches! The surprising thing? I didn’t hate it. Here’s my review of Lifetime’s semi-failed attempt at painting a peacock.
I’m going to recap the original plot of Beaches before we move on. CC Bloom (Bette Midler) and Hilary Whitney (Barbara Hershey), meet on a boardwalk as little girls and bond immediately. CC is 12 year old entertainer grabbing life by the balls. Hilary is a poor little rich girl who feels trapped in her privilege. They secretly want each other’s lives.
They spend a whole day becoming besties only the have Hilary whisked back to her fancy life. The girls are pen pals for years, but reunite when Hilary abandons her promising future to slum it sleeping on CC’s couch. Their bond is tested by their differences, male bullshit, and the perils of growing up. Then Hilary has a baby and dies. Oh, and there’s music. And beaches.
I love Bette Midler like a fat kid loves cake. She’s my spirit animal. As far as I was concerned, CC Bloom has already been perfected – move on. Idina Menzel, though lovely and talented, is not on my list of iconic divas. But I liked Idina’s performance. Her CC was spunky, likable, and definitely a new approach to the character. I just couldn’t get behind the songs, which is half the movie.
I had mixed feelings when I found out that Nia Long was playing Hilary. Not because she’s black. Hello, don’t be ridiculous! But because I was afraid the movie wouldn’t acknowledge it and black Hilary would come across looking forced.
Do I sound racist? I’m not saying I wanted a ‘she’s black’ parade marching down the boardwalk, just a shift in the character. Don’t have her playing croquet and swimming with mermaids. We don’t do that. I’m glad to say that I was really impressed with Nia’s portrayal, and the script made mention of her culture without making it a focal point. Dope.
A few of the scenes were a shot by shot of the original. Usually, that would bug me. Why remake a classic movie if you’re going to do exactly the same thing? It helped in this case, because let’s be honest – you’d rather be watching the original. I did appreciate them updating the story a bit.
CC’s gigs on her way up the stardom ladder are pretty charming. She sings at bar mitzvahs, does voice-over work barking like a dog, and ends up playing a promiscuous nun on a stupid sitcom. That’s showbiz realness, so I was onboard.
They also took liberty with the first moment of friction between the girls. CC has a huge crush on director John Pierce, but Hilary sleeps with him. She comes home the next morning to find CC looking for a fight. The original is mildly dramatic, but the remake’s version ends with a random guy coming out of CC’s bathroom asking if he can use her towel. (“What? I was sad.”) Pretty cute.
Idina and Nia really do come across as friends. I watched the post movie interview and it turns out they originally meeting on the set of The Best Man, a movie starring Nia as the love interest of Idina’s then husband Taye Diggs. Nia gushed about seeing Idina in Wicked, and how excited her son was to find out that she was making a movie with Elsa from Frozen. Their bond seems genuine and it comes across onscreen.
My biggest beef? The music! i didn’t like a single song that wasn’t in the original, which is a bummer because they’re Idina Menzel originals. Sorry girl. I missed Bette’s avant-garde “Oh Industry” number and the Otto Titsling song. I wasn’t a fan of Idina’s renditions either. She butchered ‘Wing Beneath My Winds’. Butchered. It. Girl, don’t make up new notes without Bette’s permission.
The portrayal of Hilary’s illness really affected me. As some of you know, I lost my mother recently. Nia’s performance was giving me a lot of flashbacks to my Mom’s final days. It felt a little too real at times, which means she was doing it right.
Also, shout out to Sanai Victoria, the little girl who play Hilary’s daughter. Her Tory was adorable and she handled the dramatic moments well.
Overall I give it a C+. They did that. The characters were familiar and I sobbed like I was supposed to. Still, it wasn’t great. I recorded it, but I have no intention of ever watching it again. It looked and felt like exactly what it was – a Lifetime movie remake of Beaches. And I can’t stress enough how much I missed that Otto Titsling number! That being said, I appreciate the effort and I’m thankful that they didn’t totally ruin one of my favorite films.
That ‘Wing Beneath My Wings” though? Yikes.