Boys on the Side (1995)


Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, and Drew Barrymore star in this ‘girl power’ road trip movie from director Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias, Footloose). Goldberg plays a singer who wants to leave New York for Los Angeles and decides to make the trip with a woman (Parker) looking for a traveling companion to San Diego. Along the way, they rescue Goldberg’s friend (Barrymore) from an abusive relationship. The stakes are raised when they learn Barrymore’s boyfriend has died — possibly from a baseball hit to the head Barrymore gave him before leaving.

Boys on the Side is a movie eager to ride on Thelma & Louise‘s feminist coattails. Some of finer details in Don Roo’s (The Opposite of Sex) script feel forced and pandering. Goldberg’s character is a lesbian, while Parker’s is dying from AIDS-related illness, and Barrymore’s is pregnant. But if you can buy into the coincidence of three such women bonding and deciding to live together, you might get something out of this drama/comedy. The three leading ladies are more than capable, even if they’re a little too ‘cast to type’ — especially Parker, who played this character arc almost verbatim in Fried Green Tomatoes. The comedy mostly works and the drama packs a slight wallop, despite being oh-so predictable.

With James Remar, Estelle Parsons, and Matthew McConaughey in an early supporting appearance.

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