Just before he hit pay dirt in the now classic film "Pretty Woman" (1990), director Garry Marshall brought us a late 80’s chick flick (literally) gem about two polar opposites: a crass and cynical entertainer and a wealthy uptight debutante. This is the story of their friendship. Yes, Beaches is getting a Blu Ray release. Bette Midler ("The First Wives Club," "Hocus Pocus") and Barbara Hershey ("The Entity," "Black Swan") play the adult roles of C.C Bloom and Hillary Whitney, respectively. Mayim Bialik ("Blossom," "Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Marcie Leeds (TV’s"Beauty and the Beast," "Near Dark") play the age 11 gals who meet under a boardwalk in Atlantic City one summer. As they part company, they vow to never lose touch. The hi-def release boasts a new digital restoration, which frankly looks like the same transfer from the DVD release; the are a few scenes, particularly location shots that are quite grainy. The colors are vibrant in the 1988 palette in which they were intended by cinematographer Dante Spinotti, specifically those in Art Director Bill Barclay’s sets. The standard Dolby Digital sound mix does little to enhance dialogue scenes, but works quite adequately for the many Bette musical numbers scattered throughout.
Bonus features include a Blooper Reel, a video transfer produced clearly the same year as the film release, which is nevertheless quite amusing. The music video for "Wind Beneath My Wings" which won a Grammy for best song and record of the year in 1989, a very brief clip from AFI’s 100 years....100 songs featuring Bette Midler, and a vintage Barbara Hershey screen test round out the dated features. A new interview with Mayim Bialik made for the DVD release offers her insight into the process of making the film, which is a one-on-one interview with the actress on a static set. The best feature, however, is Garry Marshall’s commentary. Also produced for the earlier release, the director’s wealth of anecdotes, trivia, and ability to point out the actress who got Henry Winkler and him to quit smoking are priceless. In the absence of a behind the scenes documentary, Marshall gives us a lot of information and, if his delivery in a thick Brooklyn accent doesn’t bring a smile to your face, nothing else here will.
Rated PG-13, running time 123 minutes, presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. From Disney/Touchstone Pictures.