**/**** Image C+ Sound B+ Extras A-
starring Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard, Spalding Gray
screenplay by Mary Agnes Donoghue, based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart
directed by Garry Marshall
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover It's long been easy sport to mock Beaches, whose sins are multiple and numerous. This is, after all, a so-called chick-flick starring Bette Midler, directed by Garry Marshall, and featuring an easy-listening hit that's even blander than the reputation of the film it supports. Yet despite these warning signs, somehow they fail to justify the contempt to which the film is typically subjected. Lord knows it's not a good movie, but its treatment of life for women beyond men is anomalous enough to make you wonder what might have happened with a filmmaker at the helm. Given that Marshall would never again direct a movie in which a female character achieved something on her own (he followed up Beaches with the horrible Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries), the rarity of the occurrence keeps you mildly interested, if generally enervated.