Yep. I've been hesitant to watch and subsequently review this movie for two reasons. One, it's not really my type of movie. I did like Dreamgirls in spite of myself and I own 8 Mile on DVD (though I never watch it), but the cliched rags-to-riches singer story isn't really my bag. Two, I understand the dynamic of feelings around Mariah and was worried that I was going to have to come here and bash the hell out of her. It is on the list, however, and that means it had to be watched at some point. It showed up on of the HBO channels, so I DVR-ed it and found the time to watch it today. (As an aside: I've watched a number of other movies not on the list during this continued extended vacation, but I'll hold off on them and hit them all at once. I know you're dying to find out what I thought about New Moon.)
When I first studied this list of Rotten Tomatoes' 100 worst movies of the last decade, three movies towards the end of the list jumped out at me for their ratings. Gigli (#73), The Adventures of Pluto Nash (#79), and Glitter (#99) are all more famous for being bad than the average movie on this list. One would think, considering the hoopla that went around the critics' bashing of the movies, that they would be a bit higher (lower?) in the rankings. For Glitter to only barely be on the list surprised me. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that the film is bad (a 7% rating), but that it's not bad enough to warrant so-bad-it's-good status. I find that sentiment amusing since the movies I've seen at the very top (bottom?) of the list have been bad beyond any possible sense of sick enjoyment. I hit play on the remote, wondering if it would be funny-bad or just lame.
It's just lame. I suppose there are parts that could be laughed at, but only if you're really going out of your way to find something to laugh at. There is also one sequence that is simply baffling, but not really funny in any way. We'll get to that. I was surprised to see that only one of the performances was potentially funny, but a) it is not even slightly amusing compared to Chris Klein's comic brilliance in that Street Fighter movie and b) the performance is not, in fact, Mariah Carey's.
Mariah is actually okay in the movie. She tries hard to act and mostly succeeds. I have no complaints at all about her role or performance. She doesn't have a show-stopping moment like Jennifer Hudson did in Dreamgirls, but neither do most actors in a given movie. Carey did win the Worst Actress Razzie, but I think that's because they like to make a splash with big names -- for instance, this year's Worst Picture winner was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, when that movie was Casablanca compared to All About Steve -- and the real criminals of the movie (we'll get to it) didn't win anything. The film also has one great actor in it, Terrence Howard, who essentially plays the same sort of role that he would later play so brilliantly in Hustle & Flow. All of the credit for this movie's failure goes to three people: actor Max Beesley, director Vondie Curtis-Hall, and writer Kate Lanier.
Max Beesley is a British actor who plays Mariah's DJ beau/ producer, who is supposed to be from Brooklyn. His fake accent in this movie, simply put, is the worst fake accent I've ever seen on screen. I can't find video of it on YouTube and I can only suspect that this is because any evidence of that accent has been wiped from the internet. The best way I can describe it is if you imagine a British accent that tries to add a bit of New York and somehow some Boston works its way in as well. There's more to it, but it defies description.
The script is bad with plenty of eye-roll-inducing lines, but it's mostly just a bunch of cliches. I like that someone is credited with the story on imdb, as if I couldn't predict everything that was about to happen every second of the way, down to even some of the actual words spoken. Maybe the cliches wouldn't have been so bad if the director had decided to give even an attempt at respectable film-making. The direction is awful. The shots are too choppy and city scenes are interspersed at inopportune times, giving the movie a frenetic feel as if you are watching it on cocaine, but cocaine that also bores you. Doesn't make sense? Neither does the direction! More than anything, the movie suffers from an incredible lack of attention to detail by the director and writer.
The movie takes place in 1983. Mariah's big song throughout the movie is a cover of "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On", originally recorded by Cherrelle and made famous by Robert Palmer. Cherrelle released it in 1984. At one point, the bad-accented DJ/ producer/ boyfriend is shown on the cover of Spin Magazine. Which was started in 1985. Maybe the director and writer didn't have Google when the movie was made back in 2001, so they couldn't look this stuff up. But wait, there's more! A city street shot in Glitter has some of the passers-by talking on cell phones. Towards the end, someone uses a wireless remote control with a modern-looking TV set. The DJ talks at one point about how Quincy Jones has won Academy Awards when he has a grand total of zero.
The greatest lack of attention to detail involves the end of the movie. It's perhaps the one laughable part, but only after you really think about it, which I don't recommend. I guess I need to put a "SPOILER ALERT" here, but you're not worried about me spoiling Glitter for you. I'm going to end this review with a recounting of the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie, with my commentary on it:
Mariah and The Accented Wonder have broken up because she feels like he resents her success and is jealous that she recorded a song with Eric Benet. Her record hits big and she sells out Madison Square Garden, which is a dream that the two had discussed when they first met at the beginning of the movie. On the day of the Garden concert, Mariah decides to write lyrics for a new song based on her life. At the same exact time on the other side of town, the DJ writes the music that would go with Mariah's lyrics. They never talked about this song. She goes to the Garden, but stops by his apartment on the way. He's not home, but she leaves him a ticket and kisses some sheet music, making a red lipstick stain even though she's wearing pink lipstick. She leaves and he walks in, having just missed her. He picks up the ticket and walks out the door, where he is confronted by Terrence Howard's character, who shoots the DJ because of some money that was owed. Mariah gets to the Garden to find out that the DJ is dead. She then goes on and sings the song that she and the DJ wrote together that afternoon (apparently psychically) and the band has all of the music to provide the background. When the concert is over, Mariah returns to her dressing room backstage to find a rose and a note from the DJ, talking about how he's happy she stopped by that afternoon and was looking forward to seeing her. Even though he was killed immediately upon getting the ticket and would never have been able to get anything to the Garden. He also says that he has miraculously found Mariah's estranged mother who was formerly homeless and drug-addicted and is now inexplicably living a clean and successful life in a country house in Maryland. She jumps in a limo and, never having changed, rides to Maryland (which apparently takes somewhere longer than eight hours because it's light when she gets there) and has a warm reunion with her mother. The end.