Glitter (2001) Vondie Curtis-Hall
Production Budget: $22 million
Worldwide Gross: $5 million
This was a project for Carey, long before any studio showed interest. In fact she made a soundtrack for the movie and shopped it to several studios before one finally picked it up. The story is a kind of biopic instead Carey plays Billie Frank. Frank gets discovered on the club scene and quickly ascends to superstardom but she has to remember to appreciate all the friends who got her there. The film won six Razzies including one for Carey as Worst Actress. The movie and the soundtrack tanked which got her dropped off her label and even hurt a few of her subsequent albums. The bad backlash on the movie even got Carey hospitalized for stress and exhaustion. To this day she won’t really talk about Glitter.
When we get biopics of music stars, it is usually due to their historical significance or how they completely change a genre of music. You can make that case for Elvis or Ray Charles or Johnny Cash or hell even Eminem. Granted that is not a true biopic, but Eminem (whether you like his music or not) was significant in breaking through the rap genre despite being a middle class white boy. Now I’m going off on a tangent but I will say that Mariah has an incredible singing voice and that has probably been the main reason for her success. However that does not change my opinion in that her music is some of the most unoriginal and uninspired corporation produced lifeless pop I have heard. She may be one of the best selling artists but you can’t really point to her and say she has changed trends. Unless you are pointing to the trend that money and marketing make artists and not actual talent in which case I don’t know why you would be bragging about that.
It just goes to show how bankrupt the writers of Glitter were when writing the script. They obviously can’t point historically to her changing the culture of music like other artists so the focus now becomes on Carey’s personal struggles in life. Even focusing on that aspect, it is very dull and uninteresting. Billie gets taken away from her mother because her mother cannot support her and I think because she is an addict (can’t really say, the writing is terrible). The main dramatic element is Billie trying to deal with that and asking why her mother would do such a thing. I’m sorry, but contrast that to what Johnny Cash had to go through in his life I look at this movie and say “so f*cking what?” Oh and maybe a “boo freaking hoo” thrown in for good measure. This does not really qualify as an underdog story and I’m not going to sit through two hours of melodramatic camp about how bad you had it. We all got it bad lady and your story doesn’t exactly qualify as being all that special or a hard knock life.
The dialog and hamminess of the script is amazing. Take for instance when Billie gets her first big music video with the evil/corrupt/faceless corporate recording label. The smarmy director cuts into the video going (I shit you not) “WE NEED MORE OF HER BREASTS!” and saying of her two lifelong friends/backup dancers “Ugh, just get some strippers already!” We then get Mariah in a bikini surrounded by a cast of men in leotards in tribal Indian paint with the director screaming “Yes, this is what I wanted! Like fire!!!” How bout when Dice and Billie break up, and they somehow psychically link to write a ballad about each other. I’m not kidding. There is no explanation for this scene other than they have telepathy and both write the same song while separated and on different parts of the state. You would not think in Glitter of all movies, they would have the balls to try to seriously give us telepathy during the story. Or when Billie gets a pair of over the top publicity agents. One is a loud mouth cutthroat bitch and she has a lapdog who is one of the creepiest yet flamboyantly gay men ever. I swear the Crispin Glover like stares this guy gives makes me think he is planning on cutting my balls off and using them for earrings to match with his skin dress. Where the hell was I going with this? I dunno, I suppose this will lead to the acting.
The acting, no surprises here, sucks. It’s strange that Mariah really can’t play Mariah all that well. Her attempts at “acting” are terrible. She has this strange modest look she has all the time where she will tilt her head down, look up with puppy dog eyes, and clamp her lips together in a smile that looks like she is covering up for the fact she has braces. We get it, you are trying to act modest about your success. Now stop it, it is creeping me out. Everyone else is a broad stereotype. Dice (her boyfriend) is a Stephen Doriff jealous dick, everyone in the corporate record company have eeeeeevil smiles and are even more soulless dicks, and her childhood friends are offensive stereotypes. Gone unnoticed is Terrance Howard (who was also in the failure of Get Rich or Die Tryin’) as some violent record producer and possible pimp. It says something about this guys acting when I am rooting for Howard that he can somehow make Carey his bitch.
The directing is embarrassing to say the least. It is bad when the bare concepts of framing a scene and simple cuts seem to elude the director. Curtis-Hall is love for example with fast forward; he uses it all the time. If characters are walking down the hall, he simply doesn’t cut away or allow them to walk the excruciating long distance of 8 ft. No, he has to have them speed forward like he it the fast forward button. As Cinema Snob would say; congratulations, you’ve mastered the power of VCR. It doesn’t stop there though. There are times when things are in slow motion for no reason whatsoever and there are spastic cuts to different scenes that would give you whiplash. We are not talking about action scenes here; we are talking about basic cuts between scenes and exchanges in dialog! There are also little things which are bizarre and just confusing. Like for example Carey has this three inch streak of silver paint on her right shoulder at all times during this movie. WHY!? What the hell is that thing? Why is it there? Or there is another scene where supposedly Dice is too busy to come to Billie’s award show and you see her all dejected with the sad puppy dog face now. Spastic cut then to her coming out of the award show with, you guessed it, Dice! What…fuck…not logical…f*ck…bullsh*t! It seems like a small thing but that’s just it; it’s all stupid sh*t. There is not any competence in any part of this movie.
Everything about this movie sucks: the acting, the writing, the dialog, the original Carey soundtrack, the directing, the cinematography, on and on and on. I would say this is so bad you could riff on this movie because believe me, there is a lot to laugh at during this movie. This is one of the funnier pieces of sh*t I’ve seen in a while. However that would mean admitting to people you have rented and paid good money to see Glitter. I have spent money to see Glitter. The things I do for this thread…