Steel Magnolias

I haven't seen the popular play by Robert Harling that Harling himself has adapted here, expanding the all-female original to accommodate some menfolk (Tom Skerritt, Dylan McDermott, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Sam Shepard) in smaller parts, but it must have something more to offer than director Herbert Ross's corny, all-star mounting of it, with Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts heading the cast. Full of either fake or slippery southern accents (MacLaine and Dukakis are the worst offenders) and humor that largely consists of sentences ending with “butt” or “where the sun don't shine,” the film at least has the authentic and good-natured sincerity of Parton and Field and the talent and charm of Hannah to guide one over some of the stickier sections. If you can survive the sentimental harmonica music of Georges Delerue, the overall ambience of this tribute to the camaraderie of southern women is facile and a mite mechanical, but otherwise tolerable (1989).

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