MOVIE REVIEW: Steel Magnolias 2012

Steel Magnolias is a classic in the film industry! The 1989 original, starring acting veterans Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and Julia Roberts, along with Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, and Darryl Hannah. I'm not going to give a whole recap of the movie, but for those of you who have never seen the original or the remake, it's about six women who are all close friends who share in the ups and downs of each other's lives down in Louisiana. The film is filled with laughter and love, and well as tears and pain. With all of the great reviews about the film, t honestly only made sense that one day, someone would want to make a remake.

And here we are, 23 years later, with a remake from director Kenny Leon. When the news of the remake came out about a year ago, and I heard that it was with an all African-American cast (starring some of my favorite black actresses like Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, and Alfre Woodard, along with Jill Scott, Adepero Oduye, and Phylicia's daughter, Condola Rashad), I was beyond excited!

Some spoilers may be ahead.

The reviews were mixed among the Twitterverse, with some saying it was terrible, others loving it, and many saying that it was just...ok. Though I (along with mostly everyone who's seen the first one) was bound to compare it to the original, I went in really excited about this remake! And I was determined not to let my intense love for the original get in the way of reviewing this. I knew that it wouldn't be like the original (remakes almost never top their predecessor), but I was disappointed. I thought it was ok, but it still fell short a lot of times.

Now, like I said before, this was a movie that I was excited about when I first heard about it. I knew that it would be modernized (this is 2012, so if anybody was expecting that old southern feel from the original, who were you really kidding?) I wasn't too shocked to hear the Wobble at Shelby's wedding reception, or hear the actors talk about Facebook or Beyoncé. Also not not shocked that the movie cut some of the scenes, putting lines into other parts of the movie. Lifetime movies don't typically go over two hours with commercials and the original is that length. Figured they would add in scenes too to add in a little more perspective from the characters (and they did that plenty!).

However, the scenes were just rushed, with a lot of the lines emotionlessly and quickly spit out like they were just going through a run through on set! As a result, jokes throughout the movie weren't as funny. It didn't feel like there were any real connection between the actors other than between Phylicia and Alfre as friends Clairee and Ouiser, but especially not between Queen Latifah and Condola (who played mother-daughter pair M'Lynn and Shelby). That was the most important relationship! Though Condola's performance was actually very natural and great to me, Queen Latifah seemed distant when it came to her, which was important since M'Lynn and Shelby were so close! I can only truly praise half of the main cast--Condola, Phylicia and Alfre (who was the most comedic part of the whole movie).

Though I was sitting down and watching closely, I honestly wasn't that connected as the movie went on until towards the end when Queen Latifah acted out Sally Field's famous breakdown (though still a little forced and ) after Shelby passed, and Clairee offered up Ouiser for M'Lynn to hit! That scene always gets me emotional, but still laughing and happy at the end as the ladies celebrate Shelby's life, and stand strong for each other. But in fact, the whole of the original had me dying laughing, because it was so natural and the chemistry was so great, and this one wasn't. Overall, it was just...a movie. Just a story that I didn't connect to until the part where you couldn't help but be emotional because a main character had just died. I did love how the movie ended with a short monologue from Shelby, ending with her famous line of "I would rather have 30 minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special," showing that Shelby had no regrets about dying because she gave birth to a beautiful son, and her legacy lives on.

Now, let me say this too. Many were saying online that African Americans ought to support and not bash the film because we as a culture don't have many opportunities like this in the entertainment industry, which is true. And I do try to support the opportunities we do have, especially as leads on movies and tv series. HOWEVER, I'm not going to just say that a movie is great simply because it has a film full of people who look like me. I judge a film based on the emotions conveyed, if the story really shines onscreen, especially when it's a remake of a movie that I love to death! Even with Lifetime movies, there are some where my eyes are GLUED to the TV because they're so good. I got bored with this one, which hurts to say, because I was so excited for this. I have to be honest and give an average grade with a B-/C+. I commend the director and the cast for the effort, and for making it their own, but it just didn't stand out to me.

How did you feel about the remake? Sound off below!

Image via USA Today

1 comment:

  1. I think this is one of those moments if you decide to copy, make sure you make it your own. I have not seen the remake of “Steel Magnolias,” but I was happy it was done with an all-black cast. I was telling my co-worker at DISH about the remake, and she refuses to watch it, as she is faithful to the original. I have this movie recorded on my Hopper, and once I get a free moment alone I will try to watch this movie without making any comparisons to the original. There are a few other Lifetime movies I’ve also recorded because of all the available DVR space. This will definitely be a tissue box weekend for me.



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