Steel Magnolias (1989) starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott directed by Herbert Ross Movie Review

Steel Magnolias (1989)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias

MacLaine's Magnolias are Anything but Plain

"Steel Magnolias" is a movie which splits my opinion right down the middle as there is part of this female orientated movie which I just can't stand. Yet at the same time "Steel Magnolias" makes me smile, makes me cry and the longer it goes on the more I warm to it. And so it leaves me conflicted because the bad goes hand in hand with the good so whilst the friendship of 6 women ends up being incredibly fake and cheesy, the humorous banter makes me laugh. The storyline as it manipulates my emotions frustrates me, yet at times it is naturally powerful causing me to cry. And as such for me "Steel Magnolias" is so wrong but at the same time so right.

The underlying story to "Steel Magnolias" revolves around the mother daughter relationship between M'Lynn and Shelby because Shelby is a diabetic and all her life M'Lynn has taken care of her. And so this underlying story evolves as we enter the storyline on Shelby's wedding day and over the course of the movie we have various issues such as Shelby wanting to start a family despite knowing the increased risks it brings as well as some significant other issues. But in reality whilst the underlying story is about Shelby "Steel Magnolias" is really about a series of situations and characters such as Truvy Jones less than perfect marriage and Annelle Dupuy Desoto religious conversion. It is these situations and characters as well as others such as the antagonist friendship between Ouiser Boudreaux and Clairee Belcher which is what the movie is really about.

Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine in Steel Magnolias

All of this, the ongoing drama attached to Shelby and the situations which occur in the life of these friends is done in such a way that "Steel Magnolias" should be an inspirational celebration of the friendship between these women. Everything boils down to that when the going gets tough for any of them their friends are there for them, they will make you smile and help you get through what ever issue is occurring. And it is a nice sentiment if it wasn't so cheesily delivered, far too often I found myself laughing as these women bonded and supported each other because it is also so very fake. Maybe it is intentionally fake, but in being so "Steel Magnolias" ends up venturing into to being cheesy far too often.

But the daft thing is whilst cheesy it is all very entertaining and you do warm to the friendships these women have. You do smile when through her own crotchety way Ouiser shows her softer side towards someone else. And whilst the dramatic side of the story most definitely sets out to manipulate your emotions there are times whilst bordering on being cringe worthy you can't but help shed a tear. It's basically very conflicted because whilst fun and naturally emotional "Steel Magnolias" is also cheesy and manipulative.

And being conflicted extends to the characters because to me these women are not real people, they border on being caricatures from the big haired Truvy Jones through to the crotchety Ouiser Bourdeaux. But then these characters, every single one of the is entertaining and despite being fake seem almost right. Dolly Parton as Truvy Jones, with her big hair and love of jumpers is over the top but then Parton makes her such an uplifting character who radiates warmth and happiness. Shirley Maclaine with a constant glare seems like something out of a comic book yet the antagonistic way she winds people up is so entertaining. And so it goes on because each of these women are on one hand so wrong but also so right.

What this all boils down to is that for me "Steel Magnolias" is a movie which is both so wrong and so right. The friendships, the characters and even the stories and situations are all incredibly cheesy and the drama is manipulative but it is also all very entertaining and manages to draw an emotional feeling which isn't manipulated. Quite simply you will love and you will hate "Steel Magnolias" and whilst cheesy it is a movie which gets better the longer you watch it and is surprisingly uplifting.