Beaches (1988)

Beaches

Genre: Drama

Cast: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard

Synopsis: A spoiled little white girl befriends a ginger troll underneath the Atlantic City boardwalk and they remain friends for decades, overcoming troubles in their careers and love lives.

I think Beaches may possibly beat Interview with the Vampire in the battle for the title ‘Gayest Movie Ever.’ Sure, Interview with the Vampire has Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise engaging in a serious amount of sucking and swallowing, but Beaches has Bette Midler being a diva and telling a white waspy bitch with a serious case of AIDS to shove it before they kiss and make up. OK, Barbara Hershey’s character does not actually have AIDS in this movie. She has viral cardiomyopathy…which is apparently a thing. But my comment about AIDS is not intended to be flippant and it has merit. Allow me to explain.

Bette Midler plays the gay everyman in this movie. She’s different and unusual and constantly reminded of the fact she’s not like everybody else because she’s chumming it up with little Susie Whitey McWhiterson. Seriously, could this bitch be any whiter??? Anyway, try as hard as she can, little C. C. Bloom just can’t match up to her straight friend who gets all the cock. Eventually, C. C. makes it on her own but she’s constantly reminded that she’s not as mainstream as her friend who constantly looks down on her ginger-troll friend with her voracious sexual appetite and career-focus, two things that I think are very common in the gay-male community. It was hard not to see myself in Bette Midler’s character which I know is a totally douchey thing to say…just like how every queen says that he is in fact Carrie Bradshaw.

Anyway, we’ve established that the main character is essentially a gay man, so let me now get to AIDS (I hope never to say that again). This film was released in 1988, so near enough at the peak of the AIDS crisis. A lot of straight people my age don’t quite understand how terrible the AIDS crisis was because, in the West, HIV has become such a manageable disease. When I lived in San Francisco, I interned at an AIDS charity and worked with a lot of people who survived the AIDS crisis of the 80s. Listening to their stories was absolutely heart-breaking. I had older friends who told me that they had to watch some of their best friends die slow and painful deaths. Doctors could not do anything because, at the start of the crisis, they had no idea what the disease was. One friend said that he attended roughly one funeral per week. Although Hershey’s character, Hilary Whitney, does not explicitly have AIDS in this movie, she obviously does because the film came out at a time when AIDS was the disease everyone was talking about.

I knew two gay middle-aged men in San Francisco. One was very C. C. Bloom and the other was very Hillary Whitney. These two guys couldn’t have been anymore different. They had different opinions on virtually everything and, at times, they clashed and got into heated arguments. Still, despite their differences, they were best friends. The San Francisco gay community is one that prides itself on its diversity. Friendships like the one the characters in Beaches share genuinely exist. Clashing personalities exist. The ending to this movie full of tragic purpose because it’s based in reality. These sorts of friendships came to an end on a daily basis during the AIDS crisis, especially in San Francisco. It’s easy to see why this film became so popular in the gay community.

Anyway, my emotional 420 rant has distracted me from critiquing the movie objectively. Let me summarise. Sure, this movie is melodramatic and at times the chick-flick nature of it becomes so unbearable that you’ll want to punch yourself in the face. However, if you read between the lines of the movie, those negative points are easy to overcome. Bette Midler is brilliant as always (such a stereotype I know) and she maintains her brassy charm throughout the movie. Plus, she does have a great set of pipes. If you watch this movie, I guarantee you’ll be singing Wind Beneath My Wings at the top of your voice with a tear in your eye.

High-lights:

  • Is that tap-dancing chain-smoking ginger troll Sarah Jessica Parker? No. Shit, I am such a cunt.
  • “I am an attorney at the ACLU.” HAHAHAHAHA. Of course you are you privileged white trollop. God I hate you with your white girl problems….but I do feel bad that you die. You have to leave your child with your irresponsible fame-obsessed friend. If there were a sequel to this film it would follow the life of the daughter. It would be called “Beaches 2: A Story of Neglect.”
  • I was tripping balls at this scene.
  • Emotional in a good way.

Downers:

  • Sometimes the film comes across as melodramatic but a solid performance from Midler brings it back from falling into the hammy abyss.

Summary:

I was purposefully putting off watching this movie because I thought it would be too much of a chick-flick for my tastes. Thankfully, I was wrong. I managed to find an emotional connection to the movie which really elevated the viewing experience. If you watch this movie, watch it from a gay perspective. Don’t look at the characters as crazy-ass white women. Look at them instead as crazy-ass gay guys. The film has more impact that way and, if you do that, the emotional heart of the film will be too strong to ignore.

8.5/10

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3 Comments

Filed under Drama, Great

3 responses to “Beaches (1988)

  1. Brilliant review! I’m not into chick flicks but I saw this as a kid and always had a bit of a soft spot for it.

  2. Beaches 2: A Story of Neglect, I would totally see that.
    Great review! It’s always great when you can find your own personal way to connect with a movie.

    Btw, I saw Midnight in Paris last week, I really wanted to see it after reading your review. I LOVED it! Oh wow, it was such a wonderful movie. And the Ernest Hemingway character was a total fox, you were so right about that.

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