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Arts and Entertainment

‘Magnolias’ OK, but hardly classic
TV adaptation good enough despite gaps
 
Published Thursday, October 4, 2012 8:20 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

 

The beloved stage play and 1989 iconic film “Steel Magnolias” has been remade for television with an all-African-American cast.

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The television adaptation of “Steel Magnolia” remakes the 1989 motion picture with an all-black cast starring Condola Rashad, Jill Scott, Alfre Woodard and Queen Latifah.


Golden Globe and Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah executive produces the film and stars in the role of M’Lynn. The film also features Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad as Clairee, Independent Spirit Award nominee Adepero Oduye as Annelle, Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad as Shelby, Grammy winner Jill Scott as Truvy and Golden Globe and multiple Emmy-winner Alfre Woodard as Ouiser.


“Steel Magnolias” chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana. Supporting each other through triumphs and tragedies, they congregate at Truvy’s beauty shop to ponder the mysteries of life and death, husbands and children, and of course, hair and nails.


The good
Although this film was made for TV, it appears to have been made with a big-screen budget. The cinematography was wonderful.


The acting was also on point. After I got past the annoying over-exaggerated Southern accents (I have yet to hear this done right), I found myself laughing out loud at Woodard’s portrayal of Ouiser. I even shed a few tears as I watched M’Lynn’s (Latifah) heartbreak when she learns her diabetic daughter Shelby has decided to ignore the advice of her doctor, get pregnant and put her life at risk.


The bad
While the movie was well cast for the most part, I’m not sure if I believe Queen Latifah in the role of Shelby’s mother. Because of their ages, they seem more like sisters. There are a few scenes where Latifah is almost believable as an older woman, but still it looks like there are only 10 to 13 years at best between them.
After all, in real life Condola Rashad (Shelby) is actually Phylicia Rashad’s daughter, and let’s be honest, the age difference between her and Latifah is obvious.


Overall
I’ve never seen the play, and it’s been several years since I have seen the 1989 film. I cannot say that I remember much about it, other than I liked it a lot. So this review is definitely not a comparison of the two. Judging the contemporary version on its own merits, I’d say that overall it is a decent film. It’s not quite a classic, but I’d give it three out of five stars and say it’s worth a gander when it debuts on Lifetime Oct. 7 at 9 p.m.

 

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