out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Starring: Mariah Carey, Max Beesley|
Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Drama, Music, Romance
Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
Prior to her recent mental breakdown, it was reported that pop singer
Mariah Carey (1999's "The Bachelor") put her full heart and soul into
the making of "Glitter," a semi-autobiographical drama directed by Vondie
Curtis Hall (1997's "Gridlock'd"). It's too bad she didn't also put in
any discernible acting ability. In all fairness, she doesn't get much
help from screenwriter Kate Lanier (1999's "The Mod Squad"), who has
penned "Glitter" into a very dumb, one-dimensional rags-to-riches tale
that holds zero insight into the music industry, a topic Carey herself
should know quite a bit about.
Taken away from her alcoholic, if loving, mother (Valarie Pettiford) as
a child, never to see her again, Billie Frank (Mariah Carey) is now a
budding young woman with a beautiful singing voice. Tired of performing
back-up for a self-righteous, talentless diva, Billie has her entire
life turned upside down when she meets popular DJ Julian Dice (Max
Beesley), who believes she has what it takes to make it big in the music
world. Before long, she has a record contract and finds her first
single--a remake of the '80s dance hit "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On"--sitting
at #1 for ten weeks straight. Instant fame, however, begins to distance
Billie from her best friends, Louise (Da Brat) and Roxanne (Tia Texada),
while her love life with Dice turns rocky.
In the occasional sequences where Billie performs her music, Mariah Carey
suddenly seems right at home in the part, projecting both energy and
class. Unfortunately, Carey sleepwalks through the biggest chunk of
"Glitter," the part where, you know, she has to act. Carey constantly
stumbles over her line readings and uncovers the fact that she is an
amateur when it comes to movies. She always looks as if she's trying to
hide herself behind the other cast members, a kiss of death when you are
the star of the film and have to create a likable, sympathetic character.
She's almost as lifeless as Madonna was in 2000's "The Next Best Thing,"
and that's really saying a lot.
Carey can't take all of the blame. The writing is thin and sappy, the
direction by Vondie Curtis Hall is stale, and the story is an oft-told
one that wasn't exactly screaming to be recounted. The major offense of
"Glitter" is that it's an incredible bore that goes nowhere real fast.
Not helping matters is the picture's seemingly neverending running time
of 106 minutes. It feels like twice that length.
"Glitter" also has a highly problematic timeline. Superfluously set in 1983
(despite Carey's very modern warblings), we are led to believe that the
entire film takes place in a span of less than six months. In that small
portion of time, Carey's Billie goes from being a complete unknown to
someone who gets a record deal, shoots to the top of the Billboard charts,
films music videos, and concludes with her performing at Madison Square
Garden in front of an adoring, sold-out crowd of fans. This isn't just
unrealistic; it's laughably clumsy storytelling.
British actor Max Beesley (2001's "Kill Me Later") fares better as
Manhattanite DJ Dice, who becomes Billie's biggest supporter, as well
as her lover. Beesley does just enough with his otherwise cliched role
to make it a good one. As Billie's friends, rapper Da Brat and Tia Texada
(2000's "Nurse Betty") are so much more interesting than Carey that one
of them in the central role might have helped the film's glacial pacing
immeasurably. Meanwhile, Ann Magnuson (2001's "The Caveman's Valentine"),
as Billie's publicist, annoying overacts. On a different plane from all
her counterparts is Valarie Pettiford, who beautifully and poignantly
plays Billie's troubled, estranged mother.
About as fresh as rancid Chinese food that has been stuck in the back of
the refrigerator for several months, the only notable moments in "Glitter"
are two separate scenes where the now-dearly departed World Trade Center
sits prominently in the background, a tragic testament to how quickly
famed buildings and thousands of lives can be taken away from us in an
instant. Life is far too short to waste it on a motion picture as devoid
of intelligence and entertainment value as "Glitter."
Copyright © 2001 Dustin Putman
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