"Beaches" is a bosom-buddy movie about a friendship that was meant to be---like Laverne and Shirley or Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (in the "Odd Couple"). As the buddy movie rule requires, it is a tale of abiding love between opposite souls, a friendship formed against the odds. The core plot of this drama, however, is more than a pack of cliches. There is not a lot of originality in this movie, and at times, it seems like you are watching the latest "General Hospital".
Maybe the problem is with the flashbacks. If they told the story from beginning to end, it would have felt less like the melodramatic tearjerker that it is. "Beaches begins on a note of threatening doom, and that gives the rest of the movie a dark undertone. The film opens with CC Bloom (Bette Midler) rehearsing for a big pop concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
When she gets an urgent message, she races out of the dome, forgetting the concert and races to San Francisco in a rental car through pouring rain.
The movie then flashes back to an event some years earlier on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, where young CC meets Hillary Whitney. CC helps the lost Hillary find her ritzy hotel down the boardwalk, and in the short walk the two girl become best friends. Of course, this friendship is to endure all during the lives of these two very different women, all the way up to the beginning's foreshadowed tragedy.
What happens in the first half-hour is slightly discouraging. The story is set up so completely in terms of ancient movie cliches that we know we can relax--nothing unexpected is going to happen. We are way ahead of the characters on the screen. We have already presumed that the two girls will...