WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When the wildly flamboyant child-singer C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler) and the shy and proper Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey) first meet under the boardwalk on the beach, all the 11-year-olds really are looking for is a friend, and although they are worlds apart in lifestyle and location, theirs is a friendship that endures throughout thirty years of ups, downs and everything in between. Based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart and directed by the great Garry Marshall.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Midler’s character C.C. Bloom becomes a famous singer and Hershey’s character, Hillary Whitney, a rich wife/mother but throughout all the different things they both experience in their lives, their letter-writing is constant, a bond that will never break their enduring friendship. They are committed to each other through thick and thin, even when certain men threaten to spoil their friendship. I didn’t really like the film much because it’s not my kind of film, too melodramatic and filled with too many sappy songs, in my view. There are at least four musical numbers, and they ain’t short ones. That said, Bette Midler CAN sing very well and I did enjoy the theme song, “Wind Beneath my Wings” (even if it did play over the credits) because it’s a touching, beautifully written song about an enduring friendship, much the same as me and Danya’s, my best friend since I was ten. Danya sang, but I couldn’t sing my way out a paper bag, that’s the only thing we share in common with the film, oh except for our birthdays, and it’s a cool thing to share your birthday with your best friend in the whole world, let me tell you. Now back to the film review.
The two main actresses, Midler and Hershey, are very talented, yes, but again, if the movie doesn’t excite you too much, that talent doesn’t make too big a difference in how much you enjoy the film. Had the two protagonists been played by two actresses that I loved, I would’ve liked it more. For me, it has a lot to do with the actors in the film. Lainie Kazan who plays C.C.’s eccentric Jewish mom and John Heard who plays her husband, (but not before he first ends up with Hillary, which of course causes some tension in the story) are excellent in their respective roles. I always liked Heard ever since he played the sexy lover to Nastassja Kinski in Cat People, a fantastic film. The supporting cast was cool, especially Mayim Bialik (who went on to play Blossom in the hit show of the same name) as a young, lively C.C. and most particularly the amazing Spalding Gray who plays C.C.’s ill-fated fiancé Richard. I was very saddened to find out Gray had committed suicide in January of this year, by jumping into the river. What a loss. It was a pleasure to see him on screen again. I’ll miss his humor and talent.
Audio Commentary by Director Garry Marshall: Garry has a very lively way of speaking, and he’s way down to earth, which I enjoyed. He’s funny and explains the making of the film in an interesting manner. I almost liked the audio commentary better than the actual film.
Bloopers: A not so bad feature around seven minutes long which shows us different funny clips that went wrong during the making of the film.
Music Video of Wind Beneath my Wings: Considering how popular this song was, and still is, this should of course be in the bonus features. Well done.
AFI (American Film Institute) One Hundred Years One Hundred Songs Bette Midler clip: Bette’s song, “Wind Beneath my Wings” was voted #44 in this amazing list (which I taped on VHS when it aired on TV last year) and we have Bette discussing how lucky she feels to have sung this, her biggest song and her biggest seller.
Barbara Hershey Screen Test: Three scenes are showcased, less than ten minutes long.
Mayim Bialik Remembers Beaches: This 12-minute interview with an older Mayim has her discussing her role as the young C.C. Bloom which she played at the tender age of twelve. Great casting because she looks so much like Bette Midler.
Threatrical Trailer: The theatrical trailer of the film.
If sappy melodramas with musical numbers are your cup of tea, then this film is right up your alley, and you should rent or better yet buy it. Notwithstanding the beautiful theme song “Wind Beneath my Wings” sung by the talented Bette Midler, this film rubbed me the wrong way because it was too sappy, and typical, there was nothing there to make it stand out. A buddy movie for females, this could have been a lot better in my view but it still is an okay film for its genre. The extra features on this “Special Edition” DVD were fair, nothing more.