Beaches (2017)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Beaches (2017) Movie Poster Image
Slight remake of '80s tearjerker, saved by Menzel's singing.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Rewarding family units can be created without a biological connection, including between people with diverse backgrounds. Honesty, open communication, and forgiveness are essential elements in longstanding friendships. Anger can be overcome with patience and care.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Longtime friends work through discord and differences. Youthful jealousies, selfishness, and impulsiveness give way to maturity, generosity, and deep connections. Focuses on female characters; males are mostly one-dimensional. Ethnic diversity.

Violence
Sex

Kissing. Implied sex between grownups. "Did you sleep with him?" An extramarital infidelity is discovered. No nudity; a few instances of scanty clothing, including underwear.

Language

Occasional profanity: "goddamn," "Jesus,"   "hell," "bitch;" "s--t" is heard three times.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Moderate social drinking in several scenes: wine, beer, champagne. A toast.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beaches (2017) is a made-for-Lifetime TV remake of Beaches, a 1988 melodrama/musical starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, best known for the introduction of classic pop song, "Wind Beneath My Wings." Airing on the Lifetime Channel in January 2017, the film has made its way to DVD and streaming venues. Despite changing the ethnicity of one of the two leads to African American, and updating for 21st century audiences, this new version follows the same template as the original: young girls meet cute; young adult best friends have a falling out; grownup women come back together. Some mature themes (infidelity, loss of a parent, jealousy, serious illness) are intercut with scenes of bubbly friendship, Idina Menzel's outstanding delivery of the original ballads (plus one new song), and watching two exuberant, optimistic little girls grow up to fight for their dreams. A few swear words are heard ("goddamn," "hell," "s--t," "bitch") and, while there is no nudity or sexual activity, there's kissing, presumption of sexual liaisons ("did you sleep with him?"), and a bit of skimpy clothing. Characters drink moderately in social settings (wine, beer, champagne). Caution: some very sad moments may be upsetting for younger or more sensitive kids.

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What's the story?

On a wonderful, spirited day at Venice Beach, two tween girls, CC Bloom (Idina Menzel) and Hillary Whitney (Nia Long), meet and vow to become "Best Friends Forever" in BEACHES (2017). CC is a brash, Jewish kid, singing for tips without a permit. Hillary, African American and smart a a whip, is trying to get a little freedom from an over-controlling nanny with strict instructions from the girl's over-controlling lawyer-dad. Three thousand miles separate them over their teen and young adult years, but the friendship remains strong. CC still desperately wants to sing; Hillary has followed her father's dream for her and, after law school, joins his firm on the East Coast. A brief split with her dad finds Hillary sharing CC's funky L.A. apartment and using her law degree to help others, as she always hoped she would do. It works for a while. Then, mistakes are made; confidences are broken; jealousies are acknowledged. The breakup of their friendship is inevitable and painful. Years pass. Careers are forged and lost; marriages begin and end; a child is born. They're barely in touch. It's only when tragedy strikes that the two now mature women, renew their vows of friendship and, with Hillary's beloved daughter Tory (Sanai Victoria) in tow, face serious challenges as the family they were meant to be.

Is it any good?

Sketchy characters, corny writing, and a futile effort to cram two life stories into 90 minutes or less sink this remake despite earnest performances and Idina Menzel's distinctive vocals. Beaches (2017) is forced to shorthand emotions, relationships, and plot, as well as rely on bursts of unmotivated anger, shrill confrontations, and overnight atonement. It was a nice idea to add the ethnic component here, and it proves to be a color-blind story, but it doesn't enhance the depth as it might have. There simply isn't any depth. On a positive note, Sanai Victoria as Tory, Hillary's daughter, makes a strong impression. 
 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why filmmakers choose to remake popular films from the past. Do you think it's simply a matter of wanting to take advantage of a well-known "product," or do you think they see some advantage in taking a tried-and-true story and making it fresh and relevant for new filmgoers? Or, is it a little of each? If you saw the earlier Beaches, what, if anything, do you think made it more relatable for current audiences?

  • Many movies (and other story genres) repeatedly use specific photographs, mementos (i.e., jewelry, art objects) to invoke an immediate, intuitive reaction in a scene. Think about the symbolic meaning of the photo booth pictures in Beaches (2017). How and why did the filmmakers use those photographs to deepen the connection between CC and Hillary, and to heighten the audience's connection to the story? 

  • What is the meaning of this film's statement: "Not all strength is loud." How did it relate to CC and Hillary? 

Movie details

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