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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Beaches is a 1988 dramedy in which Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey play two opposite characters who forge a friendship lasting for decades. The movie is the epitome of the term "tearjerker," and could be a bit too intense for viewers struggling to cope with the death of a loved one. As CC, Bette Midler's character, makes her way up the Broadway performer ranks, she's shown performing a German cabaret-style song called "Otto Titsling," in which the story of the invention of the "over the shoulder boulder holder" is humorously chronicled. Tween CC is shown smoking while underneath the Atlantic City boardwalk. Themes of failed marriages and infidelity recur. Scenes of drinking, including one in which CC, despondent over a heartbreak, gets severely drunk and needs to be escorted back home by the police. Some profanity, including "f--k." A main character dies.
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What's the story?
BEACHES is the story of the long friendship between WASPy rich girl Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and Bronx-born performer CC (Bette Midler), who first meet on the boardwalk in Atlantic City when they're 11. Sassy CC comes from the other side of the tracks compared to well-heeled Hillary, but the girls become loyal friends despite their differences. Each learns and benefits from the other -- CC draws Hillary out of her shell, and Hillary keeps flighty CC grounded. The women ride out the highs and lows of life, fight and make up, marry, and divorce. And 20 years after they first met, they come together in a California beach house to face their biggest challenge.
Is it any good?
When you start listing chick flicks, you won't get far without someone mentioning this true tearjerker. Beaches is rather formulaic, but the strength and solidity of Hillary and CC's connection will touch anyone who's ever had a friend, and no matter how absurd the movie becomes –- no neophyte Broadway star could ever afford to lease an apartment like the one CC gets –- viewers will be caught up in the emotion of their story.
The performances are somewhat pedestrian, with the exception of Mayim Bialik, who plays the young CC. Her energy outshines almost everything that follows -- she was born to play the young Bette Midler. This isn't a perfect film, but it's fun in a weepy way, and would make great viewing for mothers and daughters on a girls' night in, assuming that the daughters could handle the emotional intensity. Dads and brothers will probably find that, like the men in the film, they are more or less left on the sidelines.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the value of friendship, and how Hillary and CC's relationship changes over the years in Beaches. How do their career and relationship choices affect their friendship? Is the movie a realistic portrayal of friendship? How do the women's relationships with men change their connection to each other?
What would be the challenges in showing the ups and downs of a tumultuous decades-long friendship?
Besides the content of the story and the performances of the actors, what are some of the other ways in which "tearjerker" movies set an overall mood of sadness that has viewers reaching for the nearest box of tissues?
- In theaters: August 15, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2000
- Cast: Barbara Hershey, Bette Midler, John Heard
- Director: Garry Marshall
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: strong language and mature situations.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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