Steel Magnolias (1989) Poster

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Based On A Real Life Incident
Lechuguilla23 April 2005
This film is worth watching for two reasons. First, it is based on a tragic, real life event. As such, an enhanced credibility sustains the film's underlying premise, and thus renders a much greater potential for viewer impact and depth of meaning, as opposed to a work of fiction. Second, quite aside from its autobiographical roots, the film has entertainment value, expressed mostly as snappy, funny dialogue, delivered competently by an ensemble cast of likable actresses. Attention to detail in costumes and production design, and adroit film editing, further amplify the film's overall technical quality.

"Steel Magnolias" is a story about the close knit relationships between six ordinary Southern women, living in a small town in Louisiana. The film has a homespun, unpretentious feel to it, rather like "Fried Green Tomatoes".

The plot alternates between humorous, small, everyday events and good-natured quips, on the one hand ... and on the other hand, the seriousness and heartache attendant to life's unexpected crises. Through the laughs and tears, the six women learn to endure hard times, and thus emerge from their struggles with grace and dignity.

Finding something to criticize here is not easy. I can think of several changes that I would have made, to satisfy my own personal preferences. But the film is solid and substantial, as is. I suppose one could zero in on the acting. A couple of the cast members overact their parts, at some point or another in the film.

Overall, "Steel Magnolias" is technically well made. And the content engages our interest, as a result of its true-to-life theme, its all star cast, and some very clever dialogue.
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Laugh Till you Cry...
Isaac585530 November 2005
Another movie that is part of my permanent video collection and never get tired of watching, STEEL MAGNOLIAS is the beautifully expanded version of Robert Harling's play about the relationship between six women who frequent the same beauty parlor. I am pretty sure the first phrase that comes to mind for most people when this film is mentioned is "Chick Flick", but, as a male, I happily admit to loving to watch this movie over and over again, not just because of the six charismatic performances by the actresses, but because this film also has one of the funniest screenplays ever written. Claree: "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Truvy: "Ruth there's a story...her whole life has been an experiment in terror...first her husband was killed in WWII and then her son was killed in Vietnam... I tell you, when it comes to suffering, she's right up there with Elizbeth Taylor." Claree: "well, you always know what I say...if you can't think anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me." Ouiser: "I'm not crazy...I've just been in a bad mood for the last thirty years." And just when you think your sides about to split open from laughing so hard, the film takes a tragic turn and you're reaching for the Kleenex. The scene in the cemetery is riveting, thanks primarily to a flawless and raw performance by Sally Field, who climaxes what is already a beautiful and commanding performance in the film, with her rage against God as her only outlet of grief at the moment. This scene makes me cry every time I watch the movie. An appeal to the gentlemen out there who have never seen this movie: Give it a chance. I did and I have never regretted it.
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Southern Charm served on a Movie Reel
Falcon-5111 March 2000
O.K. The film is labeled a "Chick Flick" and it is, but there is no reason a guy couldn't enjoy it. I'm a guy and I found it quite enjoyable. With strong performances by everyone and a wonderfully written script, both hilarious and heart wrenching. The cast is completely star studded. First Sally Field plays M'Lynn Eatenton a southern mom with a golden heart. Dolly Parton plays Truvy Jones owner of the local beauty salon and favorite gossip hang out for the women of the film. Shirley MacLaine plays Ouiser Boudreaux the woman you love to hate whom proclaims herself richer than God. Daryl Hannah plays Annelle Dupuy Desoto the shy girl hired by Truvy because of her wonderful work on hair. Olympia Dukakis plays Clairee Belcher a wonderful southern charmer and one of the thorns in Ouiser's side. Julia Roberts plays Shelby Eatenton Latcherie the central character of the film that is plagued with medical problems. Tom Skerritt plays Drum Eatenton, husband of M'Lynn Eatenton. Also there are a couple of smaller parts played by Sam Shepard and Dylan McDermott.

One of the many funny moments in the film occurs when Drum (Skerritt) ask Ouiser for a slice of wedding cake that is shaped like an Armadillo. Drum asks: Ouiser, can we call a truce long enough for me to get a piece of cake? (Ouiser slices him off the tail section) to which Drum replies: Thanks Ouiser, nothing like a good piece of ass!

Sally Feilds performance as the woman letting loose during the cemetery scene seems like Oscar material, but she does not even receive a nomination. Julia Roberts however does receive a nomination but does not win. She does manage to take home a Golden Globe for best actress in a supporting role. As I said before there were some great performances by all the ladies. So "Chick Flick" or not I think many guy's will also enjoy this film.
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The flavor of the South
PeachHamBeach25 October 1999
Every time I see this movie, I want to eat a plateful of jambalaya and smell the sweet aroma of a magnolia. No other movie I've seen quite captures the essense of southern living like Steel Magnolias. This movie has everything, hysterical comedy and satisfying drama. Everyone was great: Sally Field as M'Lynn, a mother who still worries about her very grown up daughter; Julia Roberts as Shelby, a special young woman who feels that having a baby is worth risking everything; Dolly Parton as Truvy, a lonely beautician who brightens like a light bulb when her little shop is full of "hens" : ) ; Olympia Dukkakis as Clairee, the town bigwig who loves to gossip; Daryl Hannah as Annelle, a very religious young woman who drives her friends crazy with her sudden fits of prayer; and of course who can forget Shirley McLaine as Ouiser, the grouchy old wretch who tows her pathetic dog around and mercilessly cusses out the equally obnoxious Drum (Tom Skerrit)??? A very satisfying movie for comedy and drama lovers alike. A totally feel good, yet very real movie.
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Six sympathetic magnolias bend but don't break
roghache9 March 2006
This wonderful comedy drama romance tells the tale of a close knit group of six Southern women (of varying ages) in a small Louisiana town. The film gives us a glimpse into their daily lives over a period of several years, their laughter, their joy, and their tears, all through the lens of their enduring friendship.

Here are the six magnolias...

M'Lynne (Sally Field)...perhaps the steeliest of all the magnolias, who has a bittersweet relationship with her grown daughter

Shelby (Julia Roberts)...everyone's favorite girl next door, M'Lynne's endearing, diabetic daughter; we see her planning her very pink wedding (wait till you see the groom's cake!) and charting a difficult path, given her medical history

Truvy (Dolly Parton)...the married but lonely hairdresser with the heart of gold, who owns and operates Trudy's Beauty Parlor, center of social life for these ladies, site of gossip, teasing quips, and comfort

Ouisser (Shirley MacLaine)...the sarcastic spinster and cantankerous comic relief who is frequently seen carting her little dog around and exchanging barbs with her Old Nemesis, M'Lynne's husband, Drum

Clairee (Olympia Dukakis)...the charming, gossiping widow and town bigwig

Annelle (Daryl Hannah)...the shy, awkward new girl in town, who has a mysterious past and lands a job at the beauty parlor, under Truvy's mentoring

Through these six, we see the strength that lies behind the legendary Southern lady's charm (well, maybe Ouisser's not that charming!) and supposed flower fragility, their humor, their optimism, their faith, and above all, their banding together and supporting each other in the face of adversity.

I understand that this movie is based on a well known play by a famous Louisiana playwright. The women depicted in the film are by and large good Christian, church going folk, which is laudable. My initial reaction was to blame Hollywood for mocking Annelle's newfound deep faith and having her act as though she hadn't a clue in her dim witted Southern head. The playwright may have intended to cast her as going overboard and being too judgmental. If so, I personally don't consider this a kind or necessary depiction, and find Annelle to be very sincere and kind hearted.

However, otherwise this is simply a "funny tearjerker" and a great movie.
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Probably my favorite movie...
Pookyiscute8 April 2006
Although there are several films that I would rank in the top ten best of all time, this is probably my favorite, and is a good past time to watch that never lets me down. As many times as I've seen this film (and it's a lot), it never fails me; with tears, laughter and excellent acting and reality. Julia Roberts, as I recall was nominated for her portrayal as a young woman with diabetes, and in my opinion, should have won for this and not for "Erin Brockovich". But, the real gem and overlooked one in the movie is Sally Field. This is by far and away, her best role and performance she ever snagged, and nailed, and I rank her performance in this as one of my top five best performances in motion picture history of all time.

All the characters and performances in this are excellent, including one such, by Daryl Hannah, who I don't care for, but love in this movie. In fact, her character Anell, is the only role I've ever liked her in, and applaud her work in it.

Among the cast there are very few men, but my favorite is Tom Skerrit, who plays Sally Field's husband, and father to Julia Robert. Shirley MaClain, Olympia Dukakis, and Dolly Parton are the other three co-stars, that follow behind the three previous, and all make their characters unique.

The basis of the film, is a beauty parlor, and although it might sound hokey, it's really not. Some might call it a chick flick, but I have to say that I know men have even gotten teary-eyed from this film. It's wonderfully directed, only in that, it makes you feel apart of the never ending friendship that's between this group of women. The experiences that they have and the trials and tribulations they go through. Although not the whole movie is set in the hair salon, a good portion of the film is, but it is done in just the right amount, and is written very well.

I recommend it for girls of all ages, and men who want to impress their girlfriends with a great flick for a Friday night. It is one of the best films of all time, and if for no other reason, you should watch this merely to see the performance Sally Field gives, because it is amazing.
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One of the Best movies I have ever seen!
dvmunchkin19 June 2005
I have always loved this movie. My mom and I watch it all the time and never get sick of it. It also never fails to make me both laugh and cry. It's amazing how real it is. I cannot relate to the events or the whole southern aspect to it, yet the movie is still easy to connect with. That is not only due to the incredible writing, but the acting is phenomenal. The characters feel so real. I have a hard time picking who I like best because everyone is so incredible in their own way. Even the more minor characters. But like I said, the impeccable writing is impossible to ignore. My mom and I can't seem to stop quoting it to each other. Although, yes, it is a chick flick, it is actually a good one. It's meaningful and powerful. And it's always nice to see a movie about women that does not revolve around them trying to get a man. I can't think of anything that is wrong in this movie. I really can't find a flaw. Every women, adolescents and on, should see this movie. I love it!
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A 'Chick Flick' Men Can Enjoy, Too!
cariart21 August 2003
With Julia Roberts the superstar she is today, it's an excellent time to enjoy the film that contains her best performance, Steel Magnolias.

As the doomed but optimistic daughter of Sally Field and Tom Skerrit, she holds her own in a cast of movie divas, including Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and (in her best film work, as well), Darryl Hannah.

The film is basically a warm, upbeat character study of a group of women friends, played out in a beautiful Louisiana bayou town. The story begins with Roberts' wedding, then carries on through the ups and downs of the friends' lives. The men in the story are secondary characters, and occasionally come across as a bit selfish (Roberts' husband), or buffoons (Hannah's boyfriend), yet one of the joys of this movie is that you come to love the women so much, you don't mind the men's shortcomings, and start liking them, too!

The standout performances of the film are from Roberts, and MacLaine, as a spinster with a sarcastic tongue, and, ultimately, a heart of gold. Her scenes with Dukakis are hilarious, yet full of the warmth that makes this film so special!

A couple of things usually overlooked, but worth mentioning; the enchanting film score (I wish the soundtrack would be re-released!), and a bit part by Janine Turner, before 'Northern Exposure' made her a star.

This is a very special film, for both Roberts' fans, and anyone who wants to believe in the healing powers of friendship. Yes, this film can be defined as a 'chick flick', but guys, you'll end up enjoying it, too!
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Flawed But Extremely Entertaining Mixture of Comedy and Drama
gftbiloxi2 October 2005
An extremely episodic story of several smalltown southern women whose social lives revolve around meetings in the local beauty parlor, STEEL MAGNOLIAS' script and performances are dogged by an aura of artificiality--but it scarcely matters, for the film is a tremendous amount of fun.

Some of the performances are more successful than others, with Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, and Darryl Hannah coming out on top (I am greatly surprised that so many other reviewers dislike Hannah's performance, which seems to me considerably less artificial than many others--but perhaps since I'm actually Southern I have a different perspective). Sally Fields and Dolly Parton are less successful, but not in any sense that actually distracts from the fun. Perhaps most surprising in a film which focuses on women are the brief but impressive performances from the male supporting cast, which includes effective performances by Tom Skerrit, Sam Shepherd, and Dylan McDermott, and which serve to ground the film with a sense of the broader community in which the women live.

The script abounds in zinging one-liners ("If you can't say something nice, come sit by me!") and often hilarious situations (imagine Olympia Dukakis surrounded by naked men in the highschool football team's locker room); it also contains some very touching segments sure to choke up all but the most heartless viewer. And although the story is extremely manipulative and rather predictable, those factors don't actually get in the way of its effectiveness. While probably not a "great film" by any serious standard, it is tremendously good-natured, well-intended, and extremely entertaining, and most people will find that it lingers pleasantly in mind and holds up well under repeated viewings.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Some Interesting Southern Ladies
theowinthrop14 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Based on Robert Harling's screenplay from his own play, STEEL MAGNOLIAS is one of those films that remind us that the average Southern lady is not a fading flower type like say Blanche Dubois, but more like a strong willed Scarlet O'Hara. It is an irony that both those seminal film parts were played by the same actress (Vivienne Leigh) for they color the image of southern womanhood we have - except that Leigh's Scarlet is actually totally ruthless: far more so than we are willing to tolerate. Yet if one recalls, Scarlet witnesses the destruction of her family and way of life with the Civil War, and her ruthless streak is strengthened by her experiences. We may not be able to tolerate a real Scarlet, but a watered down one is possible.

In STEEL MAGNOLIAS the story deals with six southern ladies and the men in their lives. Sally Fields is married to Tom Skerritt. They have two sons and a daughter (Julia Roberts). As the film starts we watch the preparations of the marriage of Roberts to her lover (Dylan McDermott). Among the guests are the local beautician (Dolly Parton) and her husband (Sam Shepard) and her new assistance (Darryl Hannah), and two wealthy townswomen (Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine), Each of these women are strong types - Parton is very friendly but she is a hard working woman and a support to Shepard (who is worried about his business); Hannah is coming out of a shattered relationship with an undesirable lover; Dukakis is the widow of the town's richest man and mayor - and is fun loving; her closest friend is MacLaine who has had two failed marriages and three kids who she says are ingrates - she is the town's sharpest tongued person. The six intermingle throughout the film, centering most of the action on the deadly problem of Roberts life and marriage - she is a serious diabetic, and should not have children but insists on having a baby because she wants to be a mother.

The film swings well between the comic segments frequently handled by the banter between Dukakis and MacLaine, with the born again religiosity of Hannah (much to the despair of her new boy friend/husband (Kevin J. O'Connor)) as added spice, and Tom Skerritt's occasional collisions with MacLaine also adding to the fun. But there is the growing tragedy of Roberts' health and the effect of it on her mother Fields. All the ladies are strong, and all equally fragile in their ways (particularly where family or their men are involved). It all works well as we see the events unfold over four years. The film is a good example of ensemble acting, and for a change the emphasis is on the female actresses rather than male ones. A nice reminder of how independent and strong those southern ladies really are...bless 'em!
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Inside a small circle of friends.
dbdumonteil31 August 2003
"Steel magnolias" is a chronicle of a small circle of friends .The actresses get the lion's share ,which has become unusual ;that alone is cause for celebration,mainly when the cast includes a grumpy sullen Shirley McLaine who overplays as hell,Sally -never without my daughter-Field,A holier-than- thou but good -hearted Daryl Hannah wearing horrible glasses ,a very young Julia Roberts who was more endearing than she is now in such parts as "Brockovich" and of course Dolly Parton -too bad she does not sing-.

The dramatic plot -Shelby's illness- is kept to the minimum,at least in the first hour.Then when the tragedy strikes,Herbert Ross avoids pathos and melodrama (it's not the return of Douglas Sirk).And the last scene is wonderful,Easter meaning a renaissance .As usual,Georges Delerue's score superbly enhances the film :he's so good a musician that even when the movie bores you (Godard's "le mépris" for instance,as far as I'm concerned),his tuneful work survives.
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Schmaltzy saccharine Dragnolias
islandsavagechild12 May 2009
This movie is a strange piece of work; when you're watching it you can't help thinking what a natural the roles of the women would be for dragqueens! These characters do not seem like real women at all...they exist in some bizarre netherworld between seventies TV sitcom and pure camp. Easily the worst offender has to be Shirley Maclaine, absolutely embarrassing and unwatchable. It's as if she's doing an imitation of the old Ruth Buzzi spinster with a purse routine on Laugh-In. It's an excruciating performance. The movie is poorly written, with Southern clichés in abundance, and that sort of fake life-affirming friendship-conquers-all ending straight out of a TV Disease Movie of the Week. The one bright spot in this muck is the acting of Julia Roberts in an early role; before she was effectively branded as America's Smiling Sweetheart, there was a sweet, natural charm to her. Awful.
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An effective enough weepy if you like that sort of thing
bob the moo13 January 2005
In a smalltown America town, the lives of a collection of friends revolve around their regular meetings at Turvy's Beauty Parlour. When we join them M'Lynn Eatenton is preparing for her diabetic daughter, Shelby, to be married to lawyer Jackson Latcherie. Meanwhile Turvy takes on a new girl at the saloon in the shape of the religiously uptight Annelle, while the bickering Ouiser and Clairee continually argue in the background. Everything is happy until Shelby decides to have a baby despite the risks that her condition pose – needless to ay M'Lynn is nothing but disapproving and concerned.

I always struggle to write a review when I dip into a genre that I'm really not fond of – I know that my criticisms could be unfair because it could be brilliant but be lost on me. I only watched this film because I read a commentary on Julia Roberts where it noted that she had made it to be a massive star but had a questionable collection of films behind her, without the quality you would expect from her – specifically it mentioned Steel Magnolias so I thought I'd give it a stab to see if that was a fair dig or just a comment by someone who doesn't like the genre anyway. Needless to say that fans of heavily sentimental weepies will be pleased with this star studded affair that never misses a chance to squeeze a laugh or a tear out of you, even if it has to do it with the most forced of devices. The plot can be seen coming a mile off and it never once tries to do anything out of the ordinary. I won't spoil the film but suffice to say that it has fights, making up, love worries, births, death, laughs and tears all in the mix. None of it really engaged me because I felt it was going through the motions but, like I said, if this is your type of thing then by all means.

The characters are also pretty by the numbers – female friends including the bickering ones, the serious one, the hopeful one, the uptight one etc; they are acted well enough but that is basically what they come down to and none of the cast can do enough to make them more than that. Despite this, the cast are pretty good even if they really pander to the material and tone of the film. Roberts made her name in the film with a fairly par for the course performance that is matched by Sally Field just pushing all the emotional buttons at the right times. I didn't like Hannah or her character but Parton is better albeit she just does the same gutsy Texan broad she always does. Dukakis and MacLaine are both enjoyable enough with plenty of amusing lines to reduce the sap. The male actors are all put to one side for the vast majority of the film but support is good from Skerritt, McDermott and Shepard.

Overall I didn't like this film and can understand why the TV networks have taken to running it in the middle of the afternoon, because it fits perfectly with the unimaginative weepies and melodramas that fill those slots. The all star cast do well enough and make it a bit more interesting but generally the material is just too bland and unoriginal and the film relies less on this and more on emotional music, weepy acting and easy action to draw emotions out of the audience by force. I know this stuff has an audience but Steel Magnolias just proved to me that I'm not part of it.
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Classy cast in a preconceived weeper
moonspinner5516 November 2001
All the characters in this storybook Southern town have storybook names like M'Lynn and Truvy and Shelby and Clairee. After awhile, it gets a little sickening--one longs for a female character named Margaret. "Steel Magnolias" is so smooth it's starchy. I admired some of the actresses (Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah in particular), but the script is just stale bread soaked in soap suds. The movie does play better on television than it did in theaters simply because the material is more suited for the tube, but that doesn't excuse Herbert Ross's lethargic pacing and staging, the rat-rat-a-tat rhythm of the screenplay dialogue, nor the constant overacting by 80% of the women. You certainly can't expect monumental emotions from a picture set in a small town beauty parlor where gossip, romance and lives are played out, but, since this is aimed at "Terms Of Endearment" fans, some actual, heartfelt feelings might not be too much to ask. "Steel Magnolias" doesn't have them. It's got the frosting all right, but the cake is a fake. ** from ****
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Overly sappy and predictable
jeha-221 September 2008
Now, just because I'm a girl doesn't automatically mean that I'll like this film because I hated it. It was just far too predictable--you know what's going to happen before it does. The whole story centers around a bunch of crazy Southern women and their banter sounds like the clucking of chickens with Louisiana accents. Also, I get so sick of listening to Julia Roberts go on and on about how much she wants a baby, despite the fact that it'll kill her. Brilliant...sacrifice your husband's love and break your mother's heart just to get pregnant. The lines were clichéd and sappy and made me want to bang my head on a wall. Overall, a horrible flick and not really worth watching, unless you enjoy predictable plots, annoying characters and syrupy dialogue.
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This movie is based on a true story!
BreanneB4 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is an excellent movie, one of my favorites. It is also based on a true story. Robert Harling, the playwright, who wrote the play had a sister who had diabetes. Her's was just like Shelby's. It was very serious and having a child was life-threatening. However, though she went right ahead and had one anyway because she was afraid she would be denied one through adoption. Susan was her real name. He wrote the play for her of course. It was so good that it was turned into a movie. I have the DVD of it. I used to rent all the time before I got it. I love Julia Roberts, and all the others. Kudos to the filmmakers, cast and crew. Two Thumbs Way Up!
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Plastic snapdragons
brefane24 June 2010
An overblown film version of a a small, one set play that proves that less IS more. Set entirely in a beauty parlor on 3 separate days, the play had no locker room scenes, weddings, funerals, birthday parties, state fairs or men. Everything was told through the dialog and the men were seen through the eyes of its female characters. It was a women's world the men where not privy to. Unfortunately, opening up the play destroys its spirit, and dissipates its power and intimacy. The best lines from the play are now blasted by assured Hollywood divas and overemphasized by director Herbert Ross. The characters seem to be quoting bumper stickers.

The male characters feel gratuitous because they have nothing of consequence to say or do. Darryl Hannah never lets you forget she's cast against type, and Dukakis, Parton and Maclaine never let you forget they're acting. Roberts who has the most sugarcoated role comes off better while Field manages some impressive emoting. The dialog still gets laughs, and Field may move you to tears, but overall it reminds me of The Golden Girls(TV).
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Come and Listen to My Story 'bout a Gal Named Shel(by)
zimmedc3 August 2005
We took a weekend trip from Baton Rouge, LA to Natchitoches, LA, where fifteen years earlier the filming of Steel Magnolias in 1989 remains about the biggest thing that ever happened. Having never seen the movie, we rented it as soon as we got back home. Everyone had a reason for watching it in two segments--mine was my sense that this was one of the "cutest" movies I'd ever seen, and I'd had quite enough "cute" lately, especially after sitting through Will Smith in "Hitch". The accents and the caricatures of the characters were all so thick that it reminded me of The Beverly Hillbillies, though more embarrassing than funny. One "Hillbillies-like" moment that pretty funny was the few non-female characters' effort to shoot some "crows" out of a tree so that they won't "sh*t all over the reception". Their creative use of a crossbow is a classic.

Sad to say there isn't much else classic in a story that is at the same time saccharine and maudlin. I saw another review that noted the choppiness of some scenes (as the movie was adapted from a play that never left the beauty shop). I can think of two scenes in particular--one where the town-big wig Clairee (played by the noted-Southern belle Olympia Dukasis) buys the local radio station so that she can do the color commentary on the local football games (the scene features the same guy filmed bare from the back waist-and-lower view as he walks in front camera in the locker room three times.) In another scene, the Darryl Hannah (hard to recognize) committed Christian character argues with her boyfriend over his repeated taking of the Lord's name in vain. Neither scene has any impact on the rest of the story.

Dolly Parton is her usual big hair, big smile, big **** self as the lead hairdresser. Shirley MacLaine has a very unsympathetic character as the Eatonton's (Julie and Sally, and family) ill-tempered neighbor. The male characters are more or less wasted, especially the estimable Sam Shepard, who spends most of the film underneath a car, or sitting lifelessly in front of a TV.

The movie moved up from a 2 during the seemingly endless wedding prep and wedding of the first half to a 6 in the second half, which became more dramatic. Sally Field has a pretty good scene near the end, she and the story make you think a little about the motives of the main character (Julia Roberts as Shelby).

Overall, I thought that Steel Magnolias was a relatively embarrassing depiction of life in the beautiful town of Natchitoches, LA. Given that the locals seemed not to mind too much, I may be overreacting. They even showed us where the truck made an illegal left turn in the final scene. I hope this is not a spoiler.

I don't really understand the almost universal overwhelming praise by the reviewers here. I understand the overall rating under 7, as all the 10's from the reviewers are being offset by 4's and 5's by people who saw the movie as I did, but were too nice to submit a comment.
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Character flaw
caladon21 October 2003
As much as I enjoyed watching this film and reading the reviews; I'd like to comment on one aspect of the film that I haven't seen touched upon. The character of Shelby is meant to be portrayed as an optimistic, strong willed individual, determined to buck the odds to have the baby she longs to have. However, I can't help but see the character as incredibly selfish. Even though she knows that going through a pregnancy will put undo strain on her weakened system and potentially threaten and shorten her life, she resolves to get pregnant anyway; just so she can have a baby. Apparently she hasn't given a thought to either the child or her husband for that matter. She intentionally puts her husband in the position of probably losing his wife and raising a child as a single parent and whatever child she has, of losing its mother. Not exactly the behavior of someone who has a child's best interest in mind. All the character illustrated was that her husband was just a means to an end.
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the worst, most predictable piece of garbage ever
obliv16 October 2001
there has never, NEVER been a more predictable, dull, boring piece of garbage ever made. not funny for a second, and even less moving, this movie has nothing to say. this is the very worst kind of "chick flick", and that is about the worst thing you can say about any film.

it is difficult to imagine anyone dull enough to find this entertaining or interesting enough to even keep on as background noise.


a note...i had to put a spoiler warning on this, because i commented that i knew julia roberts would die the second her image was on screen. thing is , thats not a spoiler. if you know anything about movies, you should be able to tell the second she appears, in fuzzy, blown out closeup, and the music swells to a sad, nostalgic teary-eyed movement, that there is something 'tragic' about that character. hmmm. i wonder what it could be...esp a few moments later when she has an attack of 'brain fever' or whatever the hell she has...

and men? yeah. men are just good for sitting around and watching TV and eating. according to this film, no man has ever made an interesting comment or had an original thought. they are all just dumb, cold hearted dgos, but less cuddly

avoid...or better yet, destroy every print of this worthless piece of garbage and erase it from memory.

negative 10 stars out of 10
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A Diabetic's Sweet Treat
AlanSKaufman2 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Please forgive the cuteness of my title, "A Diabetic's Sweet Treat", by allowing me to demonstrate why it encapsulates the message of Steel Magnolias.

Twenty five minutes into the movie, earlier comedic moments turned into horror as I watched Shelby shaking uncontrollably in the beauty shop chair, resisting those attempting to help her. The scene was terribly accurate, reflecting my personal experience under insulin shock. Introspective though I am, I find it arduous to describe one's feelings in that dire situation, but as a picture is worth a thousand words, Julia Roberts' dramatic performance is priceless in conveying the diabetic's plight.

The director's DVD commentary reveals how he wanted the actors in this pivotal sequence to appear upbeat despite their characters fearing Shelby's wedding might endanger her fragile health: everyone was supposed to be hoping otherwise. But the mechanics of filming this emotional mixture proved incredibly difficult and after countless takes, the cast began feeling anxious, unintentionally adding the necessary realistic undercurrent.

This upbeat anxiety promotes a saccharine quality to life instead of a natural sweetness, similar to consuming sugarless and tasteless low fat stuff to maintain a healthy diet. So Sally Field as Shelby's mother M'Lynn conceals an anger with God that bad things happen to good people. Daryl Hannah as Annelle prays to Jesus by rote. Ouiser, played by Shirley MacLaine, behaves obnoxiously, frustrated by her failures with men. Dolly Parton as Truvy avoids loneliness by busily working. Olympia Dukakis as the grieving widow Clairee gossips and spars with Ouiser. All find focus on Shelby, who has the toughest journey.

A fascinating paradox is that conventional movie flaws don't detract from this film. Some events are boring, some characters exaggerated, some situations underdeveloped. But these are real life occurrences. Based on a true story, Steel Magnolias blooms with authenticity. Unlike a documentary, we're spared the technical medical details, and we're given no answers to the psychological, philosophical, and theological quandaries posed. Leave that to medical journals or Bible classes.

What we're offered by Shelby is a model for life. At the point she has her beautiful flowing hair cut short to make things "simple", you know something really bad is afoot. Rather than feel sorry for herself, she faces what life offers and makes the best of it. Ironically, as a diabetic, she's the sweetest person. Slowly but surely, the others discover that if you cheat a bit by not eating the right food, by not praying enough, or by letting your hair down socially, you'll fare better in this short tough life. Most importantly, support your fellow human beings and they'll support you.

So you see, my title is appropriately cute, inasmuch as Steel Magnolias serves everybody, including diabetics, a sweet treat!
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I'm a bit too cynical.
copperncherrio13 March 2011
Granted, this is a movie from the 80s, but it's rather overly silly and annoying. I'm sorry, but it really was. There were some good moments, some woman kinship and whatnot, but it just didn't connect. I think it's me though… My woman kinship bits might be broken. It's not completely out of the question, I'm not big into female family Yaya Sisterhood stuff, where woman moan and groan and act all unreasonably crazy.

I'm a bit too cynical. I guess because there were some deep moments, but mostly predictable and uncalled for… because there was no reasoning behind them. Also, I don't really care for the huge gaps of time with the poor transitioning.

I guess this gripe just has to do with the semi-high expectation since Sally Fields and Julia Roberts is in this film and it just wasn't that spectacular. But with that said, give it a try if you are interested, because at this point in time I think I'm just being picky.
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A shallow cartoon of a movie.
hrd196327 April 2003
Does anyone really enjoy this type of manipulative drivel, with lines like "I'd rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special"? Bright-eyed Julia Roberts, in her first major film role (some may hate the movie on that count alone), is the spirited young bride, tragically cut down in the prime of her life. Sally Field, as Roberts' grief-stricken mother, has a howler of a graveside scene. We're meant to weep for them, and gain some kind of uplifting message from the strength that carries them through this tragedy, but there's not a believable moment in the whole movie. Based on the Robert Harling stage play, and adapted by Harling himself, the film features Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Darryl Hannah in the other principal roles. None are particularly impressive. The title refers to the emotional steeliness that lies beneath their proper Southern Belle facade. The men, represented by Sam Shepard (one wonders what drew him to this tiny, insignificant part?), Dylan McDermott, and Tom Skerritt are, typically, presented as lazy, selfish and useless. All in all, a shallow cartoon of a movie.
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The crossing of a comedy with a typical dramatic TV-movie
philip_vanderveken15 May 2005
Reading the tag line for this movie really made me curious. "The funniest movie ever to make you cry." What can you possibly expect when reading a line like that? Will it be a comedy that is so funny that it will make you laugh so hard that you cry? Will it be a tragic movie that brings its message in a funny way? I really didn't know, but I sure was curious, so I gave the movie a try.

Everything in this movie revolves around a beauty parlor in a small parish in Lousiana. A close group of friends meets each other regularly in this salon. These women do not always seem to have much in common, but they are friends and here they share all their good moments like for instance marriage, pregnancy, a new start of life... and bad moments like for instance the death of a dearly beloved, together.

If I think of the different characters, than I must say that I loved Shirley MacLaine as Ouiser Boudreaux most. She was excellent as the grumpy old lady who seems to hate everybody and everything in that little town. In my opinion the other characters aren't as great as MacLaine's, but are OK to watch, although they don't exactly feel 'real'. At first I even thought that this entire movie was some kind of parody on the Southern culture and more in particular on the people that live in Louisiana. But after reading some posts in the forum of this movie, this is apparently how the people over there really are. It's supposed to be in present time, but it feels like time stood still 50 years ago and never started running again. The way they look, act and think certainly doesn't match with my idea of a more modern United States...

All in all this is a movie that seems to balance somewhere in between a typical dramatic TV-movie and a comedy and to be honest, it didn't convince me much. It certainly isn't the worst movie ever, but it is a typical chick-flick. Normally I don't have any problems with that, even though I'm a man, but with this one I did. That's why I give it a 6/10.
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Play probably better
lucy-1929 January 2004
I love this film, and always cry when Sally Field does, but would love to see the original play on stage. The film has opened up the play way too much. It shows us things we really don't need to see, and slows the whole thing down. I'm a long way from the Deep South here in Hackney, London, England, but only Dolly Parton's voice really convinces. The cast is wonderful, but they do overact. I feel the director didn't know how to treat Olympia's character. She's the wise-cracking one, which is telegraphed by constant close-ups of her smiling quizzically. Wisecracks are supposed to be thrown away! And sometimes the cast say funny lines as if they were wondering what they meant. Someone should put it back inside the hairdressing salon, move the location to Manchester and get Victoria Wood to direct it. Two things brand this film as a product of the 80s: all that female "bonding" and the idea that the best thing a woman can be is "strong". Strong - pah! Give me happy any day.
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