The big question after watching Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias” update, starring heavyweights Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad (not too shabby for a TV movie): how did it hold up to the original?
At first the similarities were a little jarring — why were these characters exactly the same, and why were they dealing with the exact same problems? Couldn’t the plot have changed even the tiniest bit to make it a little bit more original? Nope, we’ve got Southern matriarch M’Lynn (Latifah) and her pals gathering at the salon run by Truvy (Jill Scott) while her daughter, Shelby (the fantastic Condola Rashad), struggles with her health. You know (and have cried to) the rest.
But if you think about it, the fact that the characters and the story are the same means means that a whole new generation of women will add the movie to their cry-a-thons. (Unless that’s not a thing with everyone…sometimes it just feels good to let out some emotion, okay?)
Frankly, there’s enough room in the world for two versions of “Steel Magnolias.” Sometimes you want to watch a good classic, and sometimes you want something a little more current (and shot in HD).
Was the movie necessary? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as enjoyable as the original.
Ultimately, there are several interesting lessons learned. Here are three takeaways:
1. Race had nothing to do with the story. The plot in the Lifetime movie was exactly the same as the original version, but the cast was full of amazing black actresses. This is a story that could be told with any group of women anywhere. The end result? The exact same amount of open weeping on our couches.
2. The right cast means everything. If Lifetime had remade “Steel Magnolias” with a bunch of no-names or less talented women, it would’ve felt much more like a cheap cable re-do. Instead, it felt fresh and current and just as moving.
3. A good cry is a good cry.
What did you think of the “Steel Magnolias” remake? Was it necessary? Was the cast as great as you’d hoped? When you want a tear-jerker, will you reach for the ’80s classic or the current reboot?