BootLeg Betty

BetteBack December 4, 1991: Now This Is A Mean Review

Santa Fe Reporter
For The Boys
December 4, 1991

Bette Midler lays siege to a movie like a drunk busting up a birthday party. She bellows. She flaps her arms. She knocks over the punch bowl. Then, after accosting every guest, she insists on blowing out all the candles on the cake herself. Look at me! each gesture shouts. Still here!

So it goes in “For the Boys,” two and a half hours and some $40 million worth of pure Bettebomb which manages to trivialize the social history of three American wars while the
obstreperous Midler and her unlucky costar, James Caan, try to sing, joke and soft-shoe their way into our hearts.

If you’re looking for a primer on all the ways a movie can go wrong — makeup to mawkishness, script to sets — this is it. Rarely will you see such grave follies committed in the name of e n t e r t a i nme n t . .. or political commentary.

Our heroes, Dixie Leonard and Eddie Sparks, are troupers of the show-must-go-on variety. They meet, suitably enough, in a bomber hanger in England, on the occasion of saucy, spunky, virtually unknown young Dixie’s Big Break: She’s been drafted to do a wartime USO tour with the great star Eddie, and she’s plenty nervous. But before he can recycle his usual’ crooner/one-liner shriek, she lights up the adoring GIs with a couple of dirty jokes, then flashes an expanse of plump, milky thigh and puts the boys away with a  steamy version of “P.S.: I Love You,” lit only by the flickering beams of three hundred Army Air Force flashlights. Predictably, Dixie steals the show from the egotistical headliner. He sneers under his pencil line mustache. He wants to fire her immediately.

But Caan lets the camera greedy Midler mug him so thoroughly all movie long that I began
hoping the Sonny-deep-within him would finally get ragged off and send Luca Brazzi after her.

Midler also produced this thing, and she’ll get what she deserves.

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