Lifetime's 'Beaches' Vs. The Original Movie Shows That This Is One Faithful Adaptation
One of the most iconic tearjerker movies is Beaches, the 1988 film directed by Gary Marshall about two best friends. A new remake of the film still tells the story of CC Bloom and Hillary Whitney, but Lifetime's Beaches is different from the original movie. Beyond Idina Menzel and Nia Long taking on the roles made famous by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, fans of the original will note some other changes to the Beaches story.
One of the most notable differences is the race of the characters and besides adding diversity to the story, Hillary's race actually affects the plot of the Lifetime film. Rather than just being from a wealthy family where her father's job is not indicated like in the original, Long's Hillary references how her father thought it was essential for black men to know the law and he is a very successful lawyer.
Another change is the time period. Both movies follow the women up to modern day, but because the movies were made 30 years apart, the girls meet in the 1950s in the original film and in the 1980s in the Lifetime movie. That changes how they communicate throughout the film since in the original, they mostly write letters, while in the Lifetime version they also talk on the phone and use AOL's instant messenger (how I miss AIM!). CC's performances and original songs have been updated to reflect the different time period, but don't fret because CC singing "The Wind Beneath My Wings" is still present — just as it should be.
The heart of the story, which is the friendship of these two women as they go through the ups and downs of life, is still intact in the remake. Yet, if you need a refresher of what happened in the original after seeing Lifetime's Beaches on Jan. 21, here are the other major changes. Spoilers for Beaches follow.
The 1988 movie starts with a quick flash of letters from their childhood and then goes to CC rehearsing for an upcoming performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. She receives a letter about Hillary's health (though the audience doesn't know it immediately) and has to rush to San Francisco. It then launches into flashbacks of how the women first met. The new movie starts with a scene of Hillary already sick at the beach house with CC and then goes into the flashbacks. CC does leave a performance to run to Hillary's side in the new film, but it's later on in the story.
Hillary is from outside of San Francisco and CC is from the Bronx in the original. In the Lifetime movie, they're both from the West Coast with Hillary still being from San Francisco, but CC living in Los Angeles. To keep the women in a long-distance friendship, Hillary goes to boarding school in Connecticut and attends Harvard (versus Stanford in the original). So, they are a bicoastal friendship at times — just on opposite coasts from their original counterparts.
How They First Meet
While CC does perform "The Glory of Love" when she first meets Hillary, the circumstances are different. In the original, Hillary can't find the Atlantic City hotel she is staying at with her father and aunt and CC (a young and fabulous Mayim Bialik) sees her while she's smoking underneath the boardwalk. In the Lifetime version, CC is singing at Venice Beach while Hillary is hiding from her au pair.
CC's mom Leona shows up in both, but in the original movie, Leona is a stage mother who takes CC to an audition with Hillary. In the latest version, she is more focused on CC selling her wares at Venice Beach. Although they don't go to the fancy hotel that Hillary is staying at in the Lifetime movie, they still get their picture taken in a photo booth.
CC is still a performer and Hillary is still a lawyer, but their trajectories are a bit different in the new one versus the old one. Hillary's father is a lawyer who pressures her to join his firm in the new movie, but in the original, Hillary's family is just wealthy and she's not part of her father's firm. Hillary is a lawyer the entire time in the new movie, but takes a break from her advocacy efforts to work under her husband at her father's firm. In the original, Hillary is a lawyer for the ACLU in New York and then stops practicing law after she becomes married, before returning to it after her marriage ends.
CC works as a jazz singer and gets her big break in theater in both, but rather than CC star in a trashy Broadway revue like Midler's version did, Menzel stars in a trashy sitcom. The character experiences career lows in both after her initial fame, but ends up becoming majorly famous for her singing talent by the end.
CC memorably meets John while delivering a singing telegram in a bunny suit to him in the 1988 film. He's impressed with her voice and invites her to audition for him since he's a director who runs the Falcon Theater in New York. In the Lifetime movie, CC is singing at a bat mitzvah when John approaches her for an audition. He's also a theater director, but at the Hawk Theater in California. (Yep, bird-named theater connections.) In both versions, John shows an interest in Hillary after meeting CC and when CC gets a lead role in one of John's production, Hillary and John sleep together despite CC's feelings for him. However, instead of CC having brought a guy home that same night like she does in the Lifetime movie, CC is escorted home by a police officer since she stayed out all night alone and got drunk in the original.
Once Hillary leaves to take care of her dying father, John and CC get together. In the original movie, John and CC get married instead of just living together like they do in the Lifetime film. They do breakup in both, but it's more amicable in the original movie than it is in the Lifetime movie. CC leaves John first, but then asks him to take her back. He ends things because of CC's desire to be famous, but it's not because he's threatened or jealous like in the latest version. John and CC also work together again in the 1988 movie. So, John in the original movie is better than John in the Lifetime movie — plus, they don't have a great dane in the new movie!
Hillary doesn't date anyone before she lives with CC in the original movie, but when leaves to take care of her dying father, she starts dating a lawyer named Michael. Rather than working at her father's firm, Michael is her father's lawyer. It seems they marry after Hillary's dad dies.
In the Lifetime film, Hillary dates "What's his name" — aka Bryan — before she goes to live with CC as he works at her father's firm with her. When she goes home for her sick dad, she starts dating him again and they marry before her father dies.
No matter if he goes by Michael or Bryan, Hillary's husband sucks in either version since he keeps her away from doing work she loves, cheats on her with another woman, and then doesn't want anything to do with their child who she is pregnant with when he cheats on her.
CC's mom Leona gets more screentime and plays a bigger part in CC's life in the original than she does in the new movie. As previously mentioned, the new movie doesn't have Leona supporting CC's dream to be a star. You also never see her character again (although she is mentioned). In the original, CC visits her mom in Miami where Leona tells her she demands too much attention from everyone and encourages her to get back together with John.
As for Hillary's father, he is domineering in the new movie while he wasn't really present in the original. Lifetime's movie shows him yelling at her when she is a child (it was Hillary's aunt in the original) and Hillary also has to work with him at the firm. Before he dies, Hillary is at peace with her father and the Lifetime version even features his funeral.
CC's Love Life After John
In the original movie, CC becomes engaged to Richard — Hillary's gynecologist — while she's living with Hillary when she's pregnant. When CC gets offered a lead part in New York City, she leaves Richard without saying goodbye and makes Hillary break up with him for her. Sorry, Richard fans (if you exist), there's no Richard in the new film.
CC is present at the birth of Hillary's daughter Victoria Cecilia Whitney in both movies, but Midler's version passes out during the birth like the drama queen she is. (Menzel's CC stays conscious for it.) Victoria also goes by the nickname Tori in the new version.
Hillary is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in both versions and CC spends a summer with Hillary and Victoria at their family beach house. Most of this part is the same, but there are some exceptions. In the new movie, CC is the one who finds Hillary passed out (rather than Victoria) and Hillary never goes back to the hospital after her original diagnosis. Other slight differences are that CC and Hillary spend more time together before she dies, the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" is heard at a different time (complete with a flashback sequence), and Hillary is cremated rather than buried.
Yet, once Hillary does pass, the story is the same with CC having custody of her daughter — though Victoria doesn't have a cat (where's the animal love in the new movie?!). Both versions end with CC telling Victoria the story of how she met Hillary after performing an emotional rendition of "The Glory of Love" at a concert.
Based on this list, it's clear that overall, Lifetime's Beaches is a pretty accurate update of the original movie. Yet, it suffers from a shorter running time, so you'll most likely not feel as emotionally connected to Menzel and Long's version of these women. So cue up the original Beaches since you'll want to rewatch the Midler and Hershey classic after seeing the Lifetime movie to watch the story of CC and Hillary in all of it's glory of love.