“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”
THAT amazing quote is straight from the lips of THEE Dolly Parton, in the ’80s classic Steel Magnolias. Parton played Truvy Jones, one-sixth of a tight-knit group of Southern women who spend their afternoons at the local beauty shop, gossiping and getting their hairs did. I credit my deep knowledge and love of this movie to my mother, a big Julia Roberts fan, who had Magnolias on heavy rotation in our old DVD player (along with Mystic Pizza and Pretty Woman, of course).
1. First, you have a girl gang of power-actresses: Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah, and the aforementioned Dolly P. I’m a big fan of movies with ensemble casts, especially when they’re all talented, strong-willed, and feisty, like these ladies!
2. Every other sentence out of the ladies’ mouths is a witty one-liner. It never stops! Just a warning: You WILL quote these lines for the rest of your life. You might be out shopping for clothes one day, grab two pink dresses, and scream to a sales clerk in your best Southern drawl, “My colors are blush and bashful, Mama!”
Or you might be having lunch with a friend and whine, “There’s so much static electricity in this room, I pick up everything but boys and money!” And I think we can all agree that “A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste” is pretty much the best line EVER, and it came from the mouth of Shirley MacLaine’s character, Ouiser Boudreaux. OUISER BOUDREAUX!!!!! That name alone should have instantly sold you on this movie, OK?!?
3. Then there’s amazing ’80s-Southern-belle fashion. I can never resist an outfit that is unapologetically outrageous, and Steel Mags is FILLED WITH THEM! Huge hair, strands of pearls long enough to play double Dutch with, Christmas-tree-size headpieces, and enough loud prints to make a girl go WILD! Shelby (Julia Roberts’s character) throws herself a wedding decorated with so much pink it causes M’Lynn (played by Sally Field) to exclaim, “That sanctuary looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol!” As someone who has a Pepto-pink bathroom herself, I totally appreciate anyone who has the brilliant audacity to throw a wedding that is DOUSED in the best color in the universe.
4. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the ARMADILLO WEDDING CAKE! It’s the cutest, ugliest cake I’ve ever seen, and probably the most delicious, too, since it’s red velvet! Can someone call the dude from Ace of Cakes to make us one? Never mind, I’m sure we can make our own with food coloring and a football-shaped cake pan. You best believe I’ll be throwing a Steel Magnolias–themed party soon and making this little fella!
5. Even though the original movie was made in 1989, the lives of the characters are still relatable. Steel Mags was remade in 2012 as a Lifetime TV movie with an amazing all-star African-American cast. The bossest goddess, Queen Latifah, takes over for Sally Field, and her friends are played by Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and her daughter Condola,, Jill Scott, and Adepero Oduye (from 12 Years a Slave). Are you kidding me?! I was beyond excited to hear the news. The only disappointing thing about this remake was that it followed the dialogue of the original pretty much line-for-line—I thought they would change it up at least a little bit. But it did make me giddy to see Woodard as Ouiser. She was PERFECT.
6. But my #1 favorite thing about this movie is that even though the characters constantly fight and trade insults, they really care about and love each other. And when times get hard (no spoilers, but believe me, they do), the women are supportive of one another, just like family. They ARE steel magnolias, tough but tender, with hearts are as big as their hats. Can a crazy California girl like me ever become a Steel Magnolia? I can dream! ♦