Because I am such an honest individual (to an extent), I must tell you that I love the movie Steel Magnolias.
Yes, I said it, I LOVE the movie Steel Magnolias.
When I was about 12 it came on HBO for the first time. And my little militant Black Power fat ass was looking at my mother like she was crazy when she said ‘Benji you have to watch Steel Magnolias. It is such a good movie.’ And I love my mom and respect her opinion. But I knew I didn’t want to watch that shit. So I avoided it for a few weeks and then one night I happened to turn to it (because we didn’t have a digital guide for cable channels back in those prehistoric days. You never knew what you were turning to unless you read the Cable Guide, and my fat ass wasn’t trying to be bothered with reading). I had just come in at the part when Shelby had her diabetic attack in Truvy’s salon. I was confused as to why she was wylin’ out so hard and throwing juice all over Dolly Parton’s floor. And the fact that NO ONE was like ‘Bitch calm down! No drug addicts allowed in the salon!’ left me baffled. I continued to watch for more answers but what I got instead was a film that will forever be on my top ten list (along with other classics like Imitation of Life, Juice and House Party).
Fast forward 20 years later. I’m still militant and fat, but now I know I love Steel Magnolias.
And even more so than that, I love me some good black actresses. Now, let’s put those two things together shall we?
This should serve as a recipe for triumph right? Queen Latifah. ALFRE! Claire Huxtable. Jilly from Philly. And two new actresses, Adepero Oduye and Condola Rashad (Claire Huxtable’s real-life Rudy). I just knew I was in for a treat.
Well, the joke was on me. I could only watch the first hour of that movie. It was terrible. And it’s not the actresses fault because apart from each other they’re all tremendous actresses. Even Jill, who’s known more for her singing, can bring it when she needs to. But there was just something stale about their delivery and the fact that they damn near recited the movie verbatim from the original script. There were a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part it’s the same script dipped in chocolate and sprayed with Afro Sheen. I would have much rather seen these ladies in a completely original movie where they wouldn’t have to be tied to the nostalgia that the characters of the first Steel Magnolias bring to mind. No one but Darryl Hannah can give you the scatter-brained naiveté associated with Annelle’s crazy ass. No one but Julia Roberts can give you ‘Momma I Need A Kidney’ Realness like Julia Roberts.
Granted, I did enjoy Alfre, Phylicia and Jill for what they brought to the role, it still pales in comparison to the original. Which just serves as a lesson; Sometimes the classics just shouldn’t be fucked with.