BootLeg Betty

BetteBack February 3, 1990: Review – ‘Stella’ Is An Excuse To Watch Midler

Syracuse Herald Journal
February 3, 1990

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Stella” is a “see Bette Midler” movie.

See Bette do a fully clothed striptease atop a bar. See Bette sing in harmony with her movie daughter. See Belte clown around See Bette do the salsa with a waiter at one of the country s exclusive resorts. See Bette suffer as she watches her movie daughter marry in a posh setting while she is drenched in the rain.

As a Midler vehicle, the film works. Fans of the red-haired performer can revel in Bette gamely plowing through the soap opera. But the going is more like slogging through Cream of Wheat than soap suds.

Aside from Midler’s desire to show off her increasing acting range, there was no reason to remake the Olive Higgins Prouty novel — with or without an update.

There can scarcely be anyone left who doesn’t know the saga of the lower-class working mother who raises her daughter, making sacrifices so the child can have a better life.

Little attempt is made to bring the story into the “90s. The issue of abortion for the unwed mother is briefly raised but is dismissed after one scene.

In fact everything is skimmed over in deference to a star turn.

Stella has no sex life, a fact contemporary audiences must find incredible. She devours style magazines, yet shows up at luxury resort in the most outrageous garb imaginable.

It signals the inevitable “mother embarrasses daughter” scene.

Up to this very late point in the film, Stella makes not one false move. She cooks, sews, goes to PTA meetings. If a mistake is made, it’s because of her loutish former boss, played with the usual gusto and geniality by John Goodman. Such a pluperfect mother is impossible to swallow, despite Midler’s feat of making the woman endearing.

Worse is the doctor who is as devoted a father as Stella is a mother. Stephen Collins‘ idea of acting is showing his dimples.

Robert Getchell knows something about working-class mothers and children as the writer of the far superior “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” It allowed for development of other characters.

Here even his dialogue is cornbalL “I want a roomful of balloons,” says the incurably romantic Stella.

As the love child, Trini Alvarado wisely never tries to steal the scene from the superstar. She busies herself blending into the wallpaper of the shabby home.

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2 thoughts on “BetteBack February 3, 1990: Review – ‘Stella’ Is An Excuse To Watch Midler

  1. F**k this guy. A man certainly wrote this…and I need no excuse to see Bette. Double f**k you to him. LOL

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