"In For the Boys, Midler piles on top of persona on top of persona for two and a half hours in an attempt to overwhelm us with the sheer force and infinite variety of herself: She is the world. The movie, which was produced by her own company, has been constructed to serve as the Portable Bette - a boxed set of Midler moments, remixed and repackaged for Christmas giving....In For the Boys, Bette Midler begins as a red-hot mama and winds up as Mother Courage. And the movie is such as ordeal that it turns into a demonstration of a startling theme: Was is bad, by entertainment is hell."
-Pauline Kael, NEW YORKER
During WW2, Dixie Leonard, an aspiring singer, is given the chance of a lifetime when she's sent to work in a USO tour with the legendary comic Eddie Sparks. Dixie is a hit with the audience, but Eddie initially resents her upstaging him. Eddie soon realizes that he and Dixie are a great team. They begin an uneasy partnership that lasts through the war and into the 1950s, when they have a hit TV show. Along the way, Dixie is widowed and Eddie becomes a surrogate father to her son, Danny. When Eddie betrays his head writer and Dixie's uncle, Art Silver, who is accused of being a Communist, the act breaks up. Years later, Eddie lures Dixie back to do as USO show in Vietnam, where Danny is stationed during the war. When the camp is attacked, Danny is killed. In 1991, for a TV special, Dixie agrees to appear one last time with Eddie. Alone before the show, she blames Eddie for Danny's death, but when they are united on stage, it's clear that some part of Dixie still loves Eddie.