The star cast includes Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley McLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah as the 6 women who share the limelight in the movie. The inconsequential yet present male star cast includes Dylan McDermott, Sam Shepard, Tom Skerritt and Kevin J. O’Connor.
The movie opens with a beauty salon, run by Truvy Jones (played by Dolly Parton), who hired Annelle Dupuy (played by Daryl Hannah), a beauty school graduate. M’Lynn Eatenton (played by Sally Field) and her daughter Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) come into the salon to get themselves ready for Shelby’s wedding. One look at herself in the mirror, and Shelby faints. However, it is only because she has Type 1 diabetes. With a little orange juice in her system Shelby recovers. It is then that M’Lynn voices her concerns about how the doctors believe Shelby’s body will not be able to handle pregnancy.
Around afternoon, in walks Ouiser Boudreaux, (played by Shirley McLaine), who confronts Annelle about her past. Annelle confesses that her husband is a dangerous criminal and on the run from the police. Feeling sorry for her, Shelby invites her to the wedding, where Annelle lands up meeting Sam, who she later goes on to marry.
The movie skips a few months, and refocuses on these 6 women at Christmas time. M’Lynn and Shelby are back in town to celebrate Christmas and the news of Shelby’s pregnancy. However, M’Lynn is worried that this will only harm Shelby. Finally, convinced by everyone to relax and live happily in the moment, M’Lynn looks forward to Shelby’s delivery, which goes off smoothly.
However, a few months later, Shelby lands up in the hospital on account of kidney failure. M’Lynn donates one of her kidneys and Shelby’s operation is a success. Later, Annelle is to get married to Sam, who she had met at Shelby’s wedding. All the ladies plan a wedding shower for Annelle. Only Shelby can’t make it because of her job. But, after the shower, they find Shelby unconscious on her porch.
Rushed to the hospital, M’Lynn finds out that Shelby’s body rejected the kidney and Shelby has gone into a coma, from which she could never wake up. The family decides to pull Shelby off from Life Support. At Shelby’s funeral, M’Lynn breaks down and is consoled by the other women. Later, she somehow pulls herself together and focuses her energy in taking care of her grandson, Shelby’s child. A few months later, Annelle announces she is pregnant and requests M’Lynn to let her name her baby after Shelby. The movie ends with the birth of Annelle’s child on Easter.
While the male characters don’t really have much to do in the movie, the female leads shine through. This is essentially a woman’s movie, tracing their ups and downs. And even though there is a big tragedy in the end, the entire screenplay is filled with humorous one-liners, and showcases 6 women who are constantly funny and sarcastic. The tragic ending adds drama to the movie, especially with Sally Field’s heart wrenching monologue, where she feels a great injustice has been done. But, those tears soon change to laughter, with some predictable dramatic tricks.
While the movie is not super impactful, it does have its moments and overall is enjoyable. All the women perform brilliantly and that is the main focus of the movie. They all come together to create a world where they are always there for each other, through the good times and bad.