53. Beaches

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Movie: Beaches

Release Date: December 21, 1988

Director: Garry Marshall

Starring: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey.

Tag Lines: “The Friendship You’ll Always Remember… In The Film You’ll Never Forget.”

“Some Friendships Last Forever.”

“Friends come and go but there’s always one you’re stuck with for life.”

Relevance: My mom was a huge Bette Midler fan, thus I was a huge Bette Midler fan. I grew up listening to her music and watching her on various specials, TV appearances as well as some of her movies. In February of 1989, “Wind Beneath My Wings” was released to radio in the United States. My mom adored the song, as did I and the rest of the world. It reached number one on the Billboard chart that June and went on to win Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy’s in 1990. At my wedding in 1995, my mom and I danced to that song during our mother/son dance. To say that the song means a lot to me is an understatement and its existence is in huge thanks to the movie ‘Beaches.’

‘Beaches,’ directed by Garry Marshall, was released in December of 1988. It was a commercial success but was pretty much panned by critics. Many critiques of the movie called it calculated and predictable as well as a “mechanical tearjerker.” Despite those harsh words, the film performed very well and was a movie that had America talking. Its word of mouth was probably the catalyst for its success. I was not one of those that went to the theater to see the movie, but a friend of mine did and his story made sure that I rented it as soon as it became available.

My friend often went to the movies alone to get away from people. That is something he and I definitely have in common. His favorite genre of film was comedy and being a Bette Midler fan, ‘Beaches’ seemed to be the perfect film for him to hide from the annoyance of others for two hours. However, he was not prepared for the dramatic, somber ending and became quite emotional. There were two other friends, more like acquaintances really, in the audience as well. After the credits started rolling, they saw my friend leaving the theater in a sprint, unsuccessful in their attempt to say hello. A few days later while we were all together, they asked him if that was in fact him leaving the movie. His response was yes, but he had to get to his car because the film was too upsetting for him. Basically he didn’t want to see him crying. Listening in on the conversation, I knew I had to see the movie as soon as possible.

The week before I left for college for my Freshman year, ‘Beaches’ was released as a rental. So I went to my local Blockbuster store and rented the movie for my mom and me to watch before I headed off to school. Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the movie. We laughed a lot and were completely entertained from beginning to end. My mom loved her comedy films, and despite the heartbreaking ending, ‘Beaches’ became one of her all time favorites. She eventually owned the movie on VHS and watched it many, many times.

While I was away at college, sometime in the following Spring semester, a group of my friends gathered in my room to watch a movie. That movie was ‘Beaches.’ During that semester I happened to have a single room, so it became the room to gather in, hang out and chill. I never minded. That chill usually involved a movie. The night we watched ‘Beaches’ (or re-watched for most of us), there were about six of us there. The movie entertained everyone, especially those that were watching the for the first time. The ending sparked many tears with one friend declaring, “I want someone to be the wind beneath my wings.” That phrase was one that continued on for years long after leaving college. I still keep in touch with him and I often say to him when I call, “It is your wind calling.”

‘Beaches’ remained one of my all time favorite movies and soundtracks for years. It was a movie that was quoted and referenced non-stop for many, many years by a large group of my friends. Everyone I know loved this movie. If they didn’t, they were not friends of mine. I bought the DVD and watched it a lot. Even though I owned it, anytime it was playing on television it was definitely a “stop and watch” movie. And those songs to me are classics and have remained in steady rotation on my iPod and iPhone even to this day. There was a remake of the movie on Lifetime that aired in 2017. Despite it having a few shining moments, it was pretty unwatchable. Like I always say, why mess with perfection.

Today’s Thoughts: “But enough about me, let’s talk about you… what do you think of me?”

Every time my husband sings, which is a lot, I always say, “Hillary, don’t sing.” Anytime someone says “Guess who?,” my response is “Certainly not the hand walking queer!” ‘Beaches’ is still quoted almost weekly in my life despite it being almost thirty-two years old. That speaks volumes for how important and influential the movie has been in my life.

I watched it in my living room this morning with a cup of coffee and a box of Kleenex by my side. I can’t help it. No matter how many times I watch it, I end up a blubbering mess by time the credits begin to roll. The movie is still sheer perfection. Directed beautifully by Garry Marshall, the film is a melodramatic, often hysterical tale of friendship. What I love even more about this movie today is that it revolved around two, strong female characters. Maybe that’s why critics didn’t love it as much in 1988. Hmmm, penny for your thoughts. Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey could not have been better in these roles.

I still don’t know anyone in my life that doesn’t like the movie ‘Beaches’ and I still don’t want to know them. (They are probably Republican anyway.) It is a terrific film and one that conjures up wonderful memories of watching it throughout my life. I know that it is a film that will forever be a part of my movie collection and one that I will watch for many, many more years to come.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Albert Brenner, Garrett Lewis (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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