I’m a crier. Various things set me off, from sweet TV commercials to series finales. When I was a kid, I cried at the end of The Tigger Movie. (For the whole movie Tigger searches for his family, and at the end he realizes he already has one — his friends! Who wouldn’t cry?) One of the few things which are not supposed to make me cry is a Lifetime movie. That changed last night when I watched the network’s remake of the classic tearjerker Steel Magnolias.
The new film updates the original with a black cast, and an all-star one at that. Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and her daughter Condola Rashad, Jill Scott and Adepero Oduye embody roles made famous by actresses like Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts. While the 1989 film, which was based on a play by Robert Harling, will live on as one of the best tearjerkers ever made, Lifetime‘s version treats the original with respect and affection, and its actresses give performances that are just as fabulous as you’d expect. Thus, I turned into a blubbering infant halfway through and didn’t stop sobbing until about fifteen minutes after the movie was over.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the original movie, I have two things to tell you. First, go watch it immediately. Second, it’s about six Louisiana women who gather at a local beauty salon to share stories and support each other through hard times. The main hard time revolves around M’Lynn (Latifah here, Field in the original) and her daughter Shelby (Condola Rashad here, Roberts in the original), who has been advised not to get pregnant because of complications with her diabetes, but chooses to have a child anyway, risking the consequences. In short, the rest of the story must be watched curled up in the fetal position on your couch clutching a balled-up tissue and holding back cry-hiccups.