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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Divine Bette Midler (review)

Fans of the Divine Miss M will certainly enjoy this opportunity to listen to her famous friends — Barry Manilow, Danny DeVito, Barbara Hershey, Bruce Vilanch, and many others — rave about how wonderful she is, interspersed with clips from her performances on stage and screen. But it’s hard to imagine anyone else getting caught up in the conventional rags-to-riches story revealed in this made-for-cable biography special. From her rough childhood in Hawaii to the tough times she encountered on her rise to riches and glory in New York City, the support of her pals got her through her moments of doubt — this “revealing” documentary doesn’t reveal anything you couldn’t have guessed, and however talented Midler is, there’s nothing in this blandified and PRized version of her life story that offers any great insight into the creative personality, either in general or in Midler’s particular case. As befits the fans-only appeal, bonuses include extended interviews, delete scenes, and complete performances of several songs.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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