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‘Beaches’ is Back and So Are the Tears
January 21, 2017  | By David Hinckley
 

If there’s a run on facial tissues at your local grocery store this week, here’s one explanation: Beaches is back.

Yes, Lifetime has remade Beaches, the 1988 film that starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, featured “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and left cineplexes ankle-deep in the tears of weeping patrons.

Lifetime, which premieres the new Beaches at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, wisely doesn’t mess with the basic package that elicited that kind of response.  

This time, the best friends at the center are played by Nia Long, as Hillary Whitney, and Idina Menzel, as CC Bloom. The setup scene moves from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Otherwise, Hillary is still a lawyer from a wealthy background and CC is an aspiring singer whose upbringing was more hardscrabble. Most of the same stuff still happens to them, and no, I won’t detail what that is, in case you missed the original and want to be surprised at the reasons you’re alternately laughing and crying.

Suffice it to say that in the wide scope, the team behind the remake of Beaches understands why the original film was generally dismissed by critics and embraced by the public.

It’s a story about a lifelong female friendship and it never skimps on the sentimentality found therein. It’s full of hugs and smiles and frustration and forgiveness and warm encouragement, and it never apologizes for any of that.

And if that were all there is to it, we’d just have the kind of feel-good escape found in, say, Hallmark movies.

The secret of Beaches is that it somehow became a little more. The valleys in the relationship between CC and Whitney feel a little deeper, which makes the story a little richer, and Long and Menzel bring that out.

It’s a deep friendship, but it’s a friendship pockmarked with scars, because for all their genuine affection, CC and Whitney are flawed. Through success and failure, their lives aren’t Hallmark cards, and “happily ever after” often feels relative.

Men were somewhat incidental in the movie. They are more so here. Welcome to Lifetime, guys. 

Hillary worships her father, also a lawyer, even though he seems pretty controlling to those of us outside the family. John Pierce (Antonio Cupo) captivates both women at various times and gives CC her big break. But when he fades out, no one seems to much miss him.

Like the original, the new Beaches aims for the heart rather than the head. Once we sign on to that premise, it does several things right.

It downplays the gooey “Wind Beneath My Wings,” for starters, instead featuring the much better “Glory of Love” (the old song, not Peter Cetera’s).

It includes a priceless moment where CC has a role in a sitcom and we see an exchange where her boyfriend tells her they have to end things “because I’m married and you’re a nun.”

They hardly ever write ‘em like that any more, y’know?

Mainly, though, Long and Menzel are the reasons to watch the new Beaches. That and if you own stock in Kleenex.

 
 
 
 
 
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