Rating: 1 out of 5
After enduring Mariah Carey's film debut, Glitter, I'm reminded of a bit from Chris Rock's Bigger and Blacker. In response to women saying that they can raise a child without a man, Rock says, "You can drive a car with your feet, but that don't mean it should be done." To that I say, you can give Mariah Carey a movie, but that certainly don't mean it should be done.
Sure, there are plenty of pop star film vehicles out there -- from The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night to the Spice Girls' Spice World -- but none have been so vapidly pointless or laughable as Glitter. Everything about this complete tripe is ludicrous.
Start off with the story, which -- as gruesomely predictable as it is -- is the least offensive part of the movie. The film is inexplicably set in the 80s, a period piece that really shows no sign of its period except for a few chicks in leg warmers. Worse yet, everyone's speaking late 90s hip-hop slang in what should be 1983. Meant to be partially autobiographical, Carey plays Billie Frank, a young singer in New York who struggles to overcome a rough childhood and abandonment by her alcoholic mother. Influential club DJ Julian Dice, a.k.a. "Lucky 7" (Max Beesley playing a bad mix of Puff Daddy and Robert De Niro), hears her sing on a track, and decides to make her a star. In rapid succession, Billie and Dice fall for each other, she starts hitting it big, Dice gets jealous and starts acting like an ass, and suddenly Billie's on "the roller coaster of superstardom." In the meantime, Billie is on an emotional hunt for her missing mom. I won't give away the ending, but -- honestly -- just think of unicorns and rainbows... you'll figure it out.
The movie screams to be made with camp, and that could've been fun. But the filmmakers thought making the bulk of Glitter weepy and dramatic would be better. What a mistake. The brief attempts at comic relief -- as in a scene where an effeminate Russian-sounding director gets wacky with filming Billie's first music video -- go over like lead balloons. Instead, the audience at my screening tended to laugh loudest during Mariah's most dramatic scenes.
Which brings us to the performances, of which there's nothing good that can be said. Mariah is primarily seen with a wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look frozen on her face. She actually looks scared during her one love scene.
But you have to wonder if the writing isn't even worse. So much of the dialogue is so hackneyed and watered down for Carey's virginal target audience that it's probably impossible for any actor to pull it off with aplomb. Even the characters couldn't have been written more absurdly. They're all members of a Barbie playset: the important film director who swoons, "Billie, I'd love to put you in a movie I'm making," and the big-time record executive who takes Billie's demo tape and says, "Oh, I'll make sure the whole team listens to it in the morning." Everyone in the film is a device, and it's painful to keep watching just to see another one appear.
To say more would be a waste. There's so much wrong with this film. And, it pains me that Mariah Carey -- with her ego and sanity in such fragile condition these days, as evidenced by her multiple hospital stays -- will have to suffer through all the negative reviews she's likely to get.
But, then again, I had to suffer through her movie.
Ah, when we wore sheets, and it rained credit cards...
Facts and Figures
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st September 2001
Box Office USA: $3.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $5.3M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 81
IMDB: 2.1 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall
Producer: Laurence Mark
Screenwriter: Kate Lanier
Starring: Mariah Carey as Billie Frank, Max Beesley as Julian "Dice" Black, Terrence Howard as Timothy Walker, Valarie Pettiford as Lillian Frank, Padma Lakshmi as Sylk, Tia Texada as Roxanne, Da Brat as Louise, Eric Benet as Rafael, Don Ackerman as Peter