Lifetime recently released a remake of the 1988 sobfest movie Beaches starring Idina Menzel and Nia Long- and I for one, loved it.
The movie is updated and contemporary yet stays true to the spirit of the original. Rather than starting on the New Jersey shore, it starts on Venice Beach right here in California. The nuances of having and raising a child as a single woman in 2017 are very different then they were 29 years ago. Hillary Whitney, Nia Long’s character is affluent and educated, independent and proud, characteristics that are arguably timeless.
The New York Times had a different, less positive opinion of the movie – but I wonder if the reviewer was just too close to the original.
The Lifetime “Beaches” is a reduction of the original — smaller emotions, smaller performances, fewer songs, shorter running time (about 87 minutes versus 123) — and while that could have been an improvement, it’s not. The things that made the original worth sitting through, whether you were love-watching or hate-watching, are mostly gone. Stuffing the story into 70 percent of the time makes C. C. and Hillary’s cycle of fights and reconciliations feel more arbitrary than ever, especially in the absence of Ms. Midler, whose vivid portrayal of C. C. provided motivations that weren’t in the script.
Yes, the 2017 remake is shorter than the original, but what the NYT doesn’t seem to appreciate is that it’s not a movie that’s made in the 1980’s – in order to justify the remake, it has to be updated and more polished.
The musical numbers are less obvious or over-the-top, and include original music from Idina Menzel. The real difference, to me, was that Idina Menzel’s C.C.Bloom is a lot more likeable – and relatable in spite of her professional success. And while the elements of new money Palo Alto vs. the thrashy Jersey Shore background made sense in 1988, they’re not necessary in the remake.
The original movie (1988) was before the Sex and the City era, it was before Friends (and the love between Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe), and it was before technology that lets you keep in touch with your best friend on the other side of the country, two time-zones away.
Caveat here is that the first time I watched the original, I was 15 years old and saw my best friends every day (since we were in school) It’s hard not to think about how perspective changes. I have a different appreciation for this movie as an adult: having strong female friendships; not living close to my best friend; and more life experience. One thing that was consistent is that the ending will likely turn you into a sobbing mess. You’ve been warned.