The Lifetime remake of the Bette Midler classic never reaches the heights of the original
The original 1988 Bette Milder/Barbara Hershey version of Beaches is one of the most beloved weepies of all time. Directed the late Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman), the film became iconic amongst females and gay men, buoyed by a scene-stealing performance by Bette Midler.
So the new remake for Lifetime, directed by Allison Anders (Grace of My Heart), comes with high expectations — that it sadly doesn’t meet. CC (Idina Menzel) and Hillary (Nia Long) are lifelong friends who support each other through respective ups (career) and downs (illness). The update (set in SoCal instead of New Jersey) maintains the same beats as the original, but unfortunately, Menzel doesn’t have the same comedic chops as Midler, and the film can feel a little flat. The story isn’t exactly surprising but that’s why Midler’s firecracker energy was so vital the first time around. It may seem like just geography, but even moving the story from the East to West Coast feels like a misstep.
Also diluting the story is the fact that this Beaches is a good 40 minutes shorter than the original. While the friendship between Midler and Hershey was really given time to grow onscreen, this bonding feels more rushed. There are moments worth tuning in for, though. While very different vocally from Midler, Menzel still crushes the musical aspect of CC. And Long manages to imbue cold Hillary with a nice warmth.
Ultimately, the remake will still hit those who are suckers for a good cry. When Tony-winner Mendel belts out the classic “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Glory of Love,” even disappointed fans will be reaching for a Kleenex. B-
Beaches premieres Saturday, January 21 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.