Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring:||Mariah Carey, Max Beesley, Eric Benet, Vondie Curtis Hall, Da Brat|
|Director:||Vondie Curtis Hall|
|Producer:||Laurence Mark, Mariah Carey, E. Bennett Walsh|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox|
No one can doubt the success of Mariah Carey. She is the biggest selling Pop Female Artist in the world. She has received several awards and is well accepted by people of many races. She was born on March 27, 1970 near Long Island, NY. Her parents are Alfred (Venezuelan/African-American) and her mother Patricia (Irish). Mariah’s parents divorced when she was three over issues of prejudice directed at her mother. She was raised by her mother, a voice coach and opera singer.
Her first big break came while she was singing backup for pop star Brenda K. Starr in the 80’s. Mariah attempted to give Brenda’s record execs a demo, but it was intercepted by Tommy Mottola of CBS records. She was quickly signed to a label and entered into a whirlwind of success. Mariah is the first female artist in history to have three studio albums sell an excess of eight million copies. In 1999, Billboard Magazine, called Mariah “The Artist of the Decade”. It is no wonder that this Diva desires to do something more than a music video.
There have been other artist that have tried to tell their story on the big screen. “Glitter” is a semi-autobiography of Mariah’s life. The facts have been changed by writer Kate Lanier. The project was Carey’s idea, but the actual story is by Cheryl L. West. There are several similarities and fans of Mariah will make the connections.
The story centers around a young girl named Billie Frank (Mariah Carey). Billie is the daughter of a single mom named Lillian (Valarie Pettiford). Her mom is a jazz singer and performs mainly at local dives in the Bronx. We get a very brief picture that Billie has a rough life. It is implied that her mom is a junkie and they both lose their home during a fire. Lillian cannot cope with these pressures and sends Billie off to an orphanage. It is there that she makes some life long friends.
Louise (Da Brat) and Roxanne (Tia Texada) are always there for Billie. They all grow up and become backup singers to an obviously untalented female artist. The record producer (Terrence Howard) is desperate to see his girl friend succeed. He quickly recognizes Billie’s talent and dubs in her voice (how do you spell M-i-l-l-i V-a-n-i-l-l-i). A DJ named Dice (Max Beesley) uncovers the truth and decides he would like to produce Billie. He buys out her contract and makes the fatal mistake of not paying the $100,000 bill.
Director Vondie Curtis Hall fast forwards through many of the plot points. Often during the film I wanted to take the remote out of his hand. While “Glitter” had some good ideas, most were shallow and undeveloped. I guess the thought is that the MTV crowd only wanted to see Mariah sing on the big screen (Yipee!). There was very little glitter in the “That Thing You Do” scene when Billie first hears one of her records on the radio. The movie never even comes close to living up to its title.
There was some negative elements in the film (it’s Hollywood—so we’re never too surprised). Billie sleeps with Dice after their first date. She also moves in with him later on in the movie. The scenes are as brief as most of the story. It still sends a negative message to all the younger girls that idolize this artist. Billie and her friends wear suggestive clothing through out the entire film. Then they have the audacity to sing a song “I didn’t Mean to Turn You On” (yeah, right). Then there is the frequent use of alcohol as the universal symbol of success.
The film did have some touching moments and a sort of tragic, but corny ending. There are some stunning visuals of New York (taken from the top of the former World Trade Center). The film did suffer some acceptance problems due to that fact. It also had some technical problems and used some sampled sounds to pump up the track that were not available in the 80s (this Midi user notices stuff like that). The use of lip syncing is extremely obvious. Overall, the film did not seem to fit its 80’s setting. I know—they have a soundtrack to sell to the 21st century crowd. I imagine the music will play better than the movie (which is basically a turkey). If your looking for a “feel-good rags-to-riches” movie—it’s not too bad. I just thought the film was more like Pyrite (you know: fools gold).
PS. Billie does see success during a bitter-sweet ending, but you already knew that.