If the name Susann doesn't ring a bell, it's because you're too young. "Jackie" was a washed-up actress and radio star when she penned her first novel, The Valley of the Dolls, which went on to become, at its time, the biggest selling novel ever. Why? In the late 60s the tale of drugs and lurid sex against the backdrop of Hollywood was shocking. Now, it's quite tepid, and so is this film, exploring Susann's rise to fame.
And fame is what our Jackie was after. She was what you might even call a fame whore. She prays to a tree for fame. After getting cancer, she bargains with God for ten more years of life so she can have more fame. Kids, this is not a role model.
With the movie's tagline "Talent isn't everything," our heroes hope to inspire the wretches of the earth to greatness, by showing that even a loud, hammy, trashy, and generally obnoxious in every way person can become a star with a little luck and grunt work. But Susann/Midler is so gratingly awful, not only when it comes to talent, but also as a person, it's impossible to relate to the character.
Oh, and this is a comedy. You might think a comedy would really blow if the lead is dying of cancer. Oh, and how it blows. I smiled maybe once during this film, and what with jokes like "Table for three: two adults and one Gentile," how can you blame me? Everything from the opening credits to Burt Bacharach's tinny score is just plain bad. That said, I was stunned to hear the laughter of our baby boomer-heavy audience throughout this film.
Maybe it worked for them, but boy did it fail for me. Frankly I would have preferred to go beyond The Valley of the Dolls.
Isn't she loud?
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 28th January 2000
Box Office Worldwide: $3M
Distributed by: Universal Studios Home Video
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Toho Company, Mutual Film Company, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Lobell/Bergman Productions, Marubeni, Tele München Fernseh Produktionsgesellschaft (TMG)
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 46
IMDB: 5.2 / 10
Director: Andrew Bergman
Producer: Mike Lobell
Screenwriter: Paul Rudnick
Starring: Bette Midler as Jacqueline Susann, Nathan Lane as Irving Mansfield, Stockard Channing as Florence Maybelle, David Hyde Pierce as Michael Hastings, John Cleese as Henry Marcus, John Larroquette as Maury Manning, Amanda Peet as Debbie, Dina Waters as Bambi Madison