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Touchstone Home Video presents

Beaches: Special Edition (1988)

"It looks like a flamingo threw up in here!"- CC Bloom (Bette Midler)

Stars: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey
Other Stars: Mayim Bialik, John Heard, Spalding Gray, James Read, Lainie Kazan
Director: Garry Marshall

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (adult language)
Run Time: 02h:03m:07s
Release Date: 2005-04-26
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+C+C+ B


DVD Review

The song "Wind Beneath My Wings" is probably what Bette Midler is best known for, but many people forget that that song originated in her 1988 vehicle, Beaches. Perhaps powered by the hit song, the film went on to become a modest box office hit, and really fueled Midler's semi-dormant acting career. Despite its box office success, Beaches was blasted by critics as being overly sentimental and contrived, which, after revisiting the film ten years after my last viewing, I can't really argue with.

Beaches is the epitome of the melodramatic tear-jerker. It's difficult for anyone to see this film for the first time and not come out of it being at least somewhat depressed by the (easily telegraphed) ending. Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) deserves credit for getting the best out of his two leading ladies, Midler and Barbara Hershey (The Last Temptation of Christ). Their performances make the viewer instantly care about their characters' trials and tribulations, most of which we get to witness firsthand from their childhood through their adult years.

Beaches tells the story of CC Bloom (Midler) and Hillary Whitney (Hershey), the former a tough, sassy Jewish entertainer, and the latter a rich, intellectual who has never had to worry about money. We first see them as young girls who meet on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. They soon become inseparable until it comes time to go to college, but they reunite after Hillary gets her law degree. Together again, they thrive off each other, but when both of them find their true love and get married, they drift far apart from each other.

As they grow older and have divorced and gone through other hardships in life, CC and Hillary reunite once again. However, when one of the pair has some dreadful news to divulge, the other must make a huge sacrifice that she might initially regret, until she realizes that she must do all that she can for her one true best friend.

While I'm not the world's biggest Bette Midler fan, I have to give the Divine Miss M credit for giving one of her better performances. Of course, it wasn't much of a stretch for her to play a highly successful Broadway singer, but still, she could have coasted through this role instead of giving it her all. However, it's young Mayim Bialik (yep, Blossom, herself), playing the younger CC Bloom that nearly steals the show from both Midler and Hershey. Not only does she look like Midler might have worked in her younger years, but she has the necessary spunk and wild personality to pull this off.

It's just too bad that the generally fine performances are overshadowed by a film that is nearly impossible to watch more than once. Knowing how things will turn out and getting a feel for the massive amount of tissues you'll need to have at the ready doesn't exactly make you want to start the film over again right after it's finished. "Beaches Virgins" should definitely give the project a chance, though, as there are enough positives to recommend a single viewing of it.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There's nothing special about this 1.85:1 widescreen presentation, but image detail is never a problem at least. Colors are subdued, and shadow and black levels are nice, but there is quite a bit of grain and dirt left over from the original source material.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The new Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn't very lively, keeping most of the sound in the front speakers. There is nice separation between the fronts, but the near complete lack of rear speaker usage makes the inclusion of a 5.1 mix seem rather pointless. Nothing's wrong with dialogue clarity, as it is seamlessly integrated into the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+ 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Garry Marshall
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs Clip With Bette Midler: Short segment from the show listing the best songs of the last 100 years.
  2. Barbara Hershey's Screen Test
  3. Beaches Bloopers
  4. Music Video - "Wind Beneath My Wings"
Extras Review: There are some nice extras here, including an audio commentary track with director Garry Marshall. He has a great personality, which enables him to deliver a tight, detailed, yet entertaining discussion about making Beaches and working with a fine cast. He also talks quite a bit about the emotional nature of the film and its effect on audiences.

Next, we have Mayim Remembers Beaches, a 12-minute piece with actress Mayim Bialik sitting down and chatting about how she got her role in Beaches, and how her parents "marketed" her as a Bette Midler look-alike.

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs Clip With Bette Midler is a very brief, one-minute segment chronicling the song's #44 ranking on this prestigious list of top songs of all time.

Barbara Hershey's Screen Test is a very nice inclusion on this DVD, as it shows Hershey interacting with Midler in the very early stages of the production.

There's also a collection of funny Beaches Bloopers, a Music Video for "Wind Beneath My Wings," and the film's original theatrical Trailer.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

While not an anniversary edition, we have another case of DVD "double-dipping" with the release of Beaches: Special Edition. It doesn't appear that the video transfer has been upgraded much, if not at all from the previous release, but the inclusion of a new 5.1 audio mix and a few new extras are a definite plus for this new release.

Chuck Aliaga 2005-04-21