Critic Reviews



Based on 13 critic reviews provided by
This film is a true story and a brilliant depiction of friendship that manages to be witty, warm, uplifting, and, just when you thought you were safe, utterly heartbreaking. It’s also frequently laugh-out-loud funny.
Field does some spectacular underplaying through the bulk of the action, revealing layer after layer of the feelings of this kindly tempered, deeply worried mother.
The principal pleasure of the movie is in the ensemble work of the actresses, as they trade one-liners and zingers and stick together and dish the dirt. Steel Magnolias is willing to sacrifice its over-all impact for individual moments of humor, and while that leaves us without much to take home, you've got to hand it to them: The moments work.
No use fighting it. this laugh-getting, tear-jerking, part-affecting, part-appalling display of audience manipulation is practically critic-proof...The result can best be described as shamelessly entertaining.
It may be unfair to compare a film with its stage source, but the fact remains that the film, while retaining a great deal of both humour and pathos, is a less persuasive work and more obviously a vehicle for a starry ensemble.
Steel Magnolias is an old-fashioned "klatsch" film, a prefeminist relic in which a group of women eschew the public world of men in favor of the community of the coffee table. Their world is shown as inferior to men's in terms of power but superior to it in emotion and insight into the things that "really matter."
Thanks to Field's no-nonsense performance, this potentially maudlin scenario is briskly handled...With all the male characters kept strictly functional, it makes a shameless bid for your heart, aiming to have you smiling one moment, sniffling the next.
Washington Post
It's the feelings, the tears, the laughter, the stuff that makes Gene Shalit stand up and cheer. It's showboating time and if that's what you want, the "Magnolias" gangplank lies before you.
Steel Magnolias is pop entertainment of an especially condescending, superficial sort. Its bitchiness and greeting-card truisms are made no more palatable by the fact that Mr. Harling probably wrote it with as much sincerity and passion as Mr. Shepard put into "Fool for Love."
Washington Post
The movie is an orgiastic celebration of big, sloppy emotions; it's the film equivalent of "Feelings." And what we're supposed to take from it is a renewed faith in the indomitable strength of women. But with all this big acting and all these stars elbowing for space in front of the camera, the film comes across as something quite the opposite of what was intended, not a tribute to femininity but a kind of grotesque parody -- a corn-pone variation on "The Women."

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