Starsuckers Movie Review
Atkins is exploring the celebrity-obsessed media, which is certainly a vital theme. And there's no shortage of footage and interviewees to probe the issue from every angle: how we are tantalised by the continual promise of instant fame, how we use others to achieve notoriety, the power of association, the commercialisation of news, and how much money there is to be made from this entire industry.
The doc is framed with smarmy we-you chapter headings that imply that a massive conspiracy is at work, rather than just a way to cash in on the craving for celebrity. Not only does this approach feel condescending, but it fails to connect the dots between the various aspects of the issue. While each chapter is fascinating, the connections between them feel forced. This isn't to say that Atkins doesn't try: he intersperses a story about a 6-year-old wannabe star all the way through the film. But frankly that would have made a strong documentary on its own.
And this is the real issue: each aspect of this film is worth an entire, more focussed exploration. Maybe this could have been a TV series with episodes looking at reality TV, pushy parents, child-targeted programming, instant celebrity, the gossip/paparazzi business, star-centred charity events and the future of newsgathering. Atkins tries to cover all of these, and none of them feel properly investigated. Some segments, such as the extremely critical look at the Live 8 concerts, really need to be fleshed out much further.
Even so, everything in here is quite urgent, and Atkins makes his points with wit and irony. Most enjoyable are the Bruno-like sequences in which Atkins and his team allow parents to put their children up for the most ludicrous performance roles, or when they plant fake stories in British tabloids, then watch as each is picked up in media all over the world. But he never successfully links all of this together, so by the end, while we have learned a lot, we're not sure what to do with any of it.
PHOTOS: there aren't any real stills for this film - but you can use images of celebrities like Amy Winehouse, who features in the film. Here are some graphic images and one of Chris Atkins...