The lifelong friendship between two dissimilar womena brassy singer from the Bronx (Bette Midler) and an upper-class lawyer from San Francisco (Barbara Hershey)is the focus of this glossy, emotional picture, adapted by Mary Agnes Donoghue from Iris Rainer Dart’s novel and directed by Garry Marshall. The film’s oily overdefinition of various class and cultural categories (ranging from poor and well-to-do to avant-garde and vulgar) is strident enough to betray a condescending attitude toward the audience. Midler and Hershey (as well as costars John Heard, Spalding Gray, and Lainie Kazan) work nobly to flesh out the simpleminded conceits, which are omnipresentnot only in the script and direction but in most of Midler’s songs (1989). (JR)

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