The type of film for which the term "chick flick" was coined, Beaches dishes out all manner of weepy scenarios, including the erosion by jealousy of the central long-distance friendship and the inevitable onset of debilitating disease. Perhaps because it's such a prototype of its genre, Beaches caught on and became a guilty part of many video collections. Almost all of Beaches is maudlin -- after all, this is the film that gave the world Bette Midler's "The Wind Beneath My Wings" -- but within that, there's decent consideration given to the different paths women take and how those choices satisfy and fail to satisfy different yearnings. Beaches marked a turn for Midler away from high-concept physical comedies to a more thoughtful, message-centered type of movie; it was also the first produced by her new production company. As convincingly as Midler plays a semi-autobiographical, flamboyant Jewish entertainer, Barbara Hershey is equally capable at conveying conflicted WASP elitism. The two actresses keep the audience interested, and the solid direction of Garry Marshall (two years before Pretty Woman) delivers home a populist "sisters through the years" tearjerker, paving the way for films like Steel Magnolias (1989) and Fried Green Tomatoes (1991).
by Derek Armstrong review