If Bette Midler now seems to be reprising her early-’70s ”Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” days, you can hardly blame her. On that song she recaptured and repackaged some of the spirit of Doubleya Doubleya Two, just as she does on most of the ’40s standards included here on this soundtrack from her latest movie. Her reading of Hoagy Carmichael’s ”Billy-A-Dick” is set off nicely by caramel-cream harmonies reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters; she gets that end-of-shore-leave feel on the pensive ”For All We Know”; and on ”Stuff Like That There,” her bravura leaves even a tight horn section in the dust. But For the Boys also includes newer songs, and on those Midler loses steam. It’s not completely her fault: Her tender vocals on Lennon-McCartney’s ”In My Life” help put that song into its rightful place as a modern-day standard, but the syrupy synthesizer-and-string arrangement is an embarrassment. Midler really spoils the fun when she soars — all the while on automatic pilot — through the record’s closer, the sterile soft-rock ballad ”Every Road Leads Back to You” (by Diane Warren). It’s a shame Midler opens the record standing so tall, only to fall off her platform shoes with a thud. B-

For the Boys
  • Movie
  • 138 minutes