"For The Boys" is the story of two people - the irrepressible Dixie Leonard (Bette Midler) and the instantly dislikable but ever popular Eddie Sparks (James Caan). Set against the backdrop of wars in which the United States has been involved, the film moves from station to station as the pair entertain the boys while they bicker and fight amongst themselves.
The film starts with an aged Midler telling a studio assistant (Arye Gross) her tale, starting in the forties with World War II, moving through the was in Korea and climaxing in Vietnam. Along the way, she gets to sing a few classic tunes, including "Stuff Like That There" and "P.S. I Love You, as part of the stage act of comedian Eddie Sparks.
Bette Midler delivers a fine performance as the embittered Dixie Leonard who has seen it all in fifty odd years in the business. She layers her performance with emotion after emotion and has the gift of bringing out that quality in her fellow actors. The highlight of this film is her understated performance of "In My Life" at the small Vietnamese camp - truly a moment when the world stops turning and we are graced with a glimpse of heaven. James Caan, playing a quintessential son of a bitch, is less comfortable in his role but has some fine moments opposite his dynamic co-star.
The purpose of this film is not to document the wars which form such an integral backdrop to the plot. It succeeds primarily as a story of people - their suffering and their joy is real and it affects the audience in no uncertain terms. You will either love or hate this movie. Either way, take the time to decide - its worth the screening even if only for the divine Miss M.