Billie Frank is a shy, young multiracial girl who is sent away by her alcoholic mother at a very early age. At an orphanage, she befriends Louise and Roxanne. Flash forward to 1983. Billie and her friends are spotted by a record producer, Timothy Walker, who wants them to sing backup for his latest pop-music discovery. But when super DJ Julian Dice hears Billie's incredible voice, he makes a shady deal with Timothy to get her out of that dead-end situation. Soon, Billie and Dice are making hits inside the studio, and falling in love outside of it. Eventually, the pressure of her newfound celebrity puts too heavy a strain on Billie, forcing her to decide what it is she really wants from Dice, and what she wants for herself.Written by
Written by Darryl Gibbs and Charles Morais
Performed by The Strikers
Courtesy of Unidisc Music, Inc. See more »
Not so bad it's good, just bad.
Some bad movies, such as Showgirls or Mommie Dearest, become camp classics over time as people come to forgive their shortcomings, and just groove on their excesses. That a movie as famously bad as Glitter has not entered this realm of camp, even after fifteen years, is telling. It tells us that Glitter commits a higher sin than being bad. It is boring. And derivative. And staggeringly incompetent. It was assembled by c-list writers and a TV director, none of whom had much idea how to gain a viewer's attention, and less idea how to hold it. Scene composition is flat and dull, evoking memories of bad holiday TV movies, while failing to establish intimacy with the characters or goings on, even in close up. Early scenes feature a hazy or gauzy look, no doubt to recall Hollywood's golden age, but that simply succeeds in making the movie look trite and derivative, rather than classic. It also makes it look as if the set decorator forgot to dust. The club scenes feature a color palette straight out of Blade Runner, just not as cheery. Every creative element in Glitter has the look of something borrowed from another (better) movie. And the less said about the bizarre, almost random editing choices the better. Every scene transition is another wtf moment.
Story and script construction are uniformly terrible. Scenes begin, stuff happens, scenes end... and NOTHING carries over. There is no continuing thread here of any kind - no overall character arc, no central theme, no ongoing visual motifs outside of the movie's hilariously inaccurate 80's fashion sense. Everything that happens seems utterly pointless, just a string of clichés recycled from old movies in which the chorus girl gets her big break. Glitter's brain-dead script gives none of its performers, not even once by accident, anything original or clever to say, nor any awareness of the storyline's utter inanity, making it increasingly difficult for the viewer to connect with the drama. And then we come to the Razzie-winning central 'performance'. La Carey could have been replaced by a Miss Piggy doll and the central role would have had more animation. Mariah's singular expression of vague incomprehension never changes, not even when gangster Terrence Howard grabs her face! To be fair she is not Glitter's only zombie marionette. Outside of Ann Magnusson's over-the-top pr woman, no actor in Glitter's 100 minute running time seems committed to being in any way memorable. A cynical person might suggest that they did this so that they could keep Glitter off their resumes without fear of contradiction. The result is a movie that defies any viewer to keep paying attention to it. You find yourself wanting to make a salad or do your taxes while the movie is playing, anything so that the time spent watching it is not a total waste.
This brings us to the music. Hollywood seems to have forgotten that the most important element in any musical is music, despite the fact that the word is right there in the name of the genre. Grease turns into a pretty bad movie whenever the singing stops and The Bodyguard is only marginally better. Both were huge hits however, and the fact that their soundtracks went multi-platinum was not a coincidence. Purple Rain features some downright cringe inducing 'acting' by Prince and Appolonia, but redeems itself time and time again with great musical performances. Viewers will put up with so-so filler in a musical as long as the songs entertain and remain in the mind after the credits roll. Glitter, unfortunately, features Mariah's worst ever (and worst selling) album at its core. Not only are the musical sequences not entertaining on their own, but they also make it hard for the viewer to swallow the idea that fictional Mariah would become a superstar on the strength of them, since actual established star Mariah could not manage to peddle them in real life. Thus, the fictional Mariah fails to engage as a performer, the actual Mariah fails to cross over into Hollywood despite having great singing talent and only having to play a person with singing talent, and even the spectacle of these failures fails to entertain on the basic level of a train wreck.
Glitter simply cannot provide an adequate reason to exist. Mariah's musical ability has already been showcased in a long succession of music videos, to better effect, and so we don't need Glitter for that. Rags to riches musical biographies have been done to death, so we hardly need another. The Girl in the Gold Boots told substantially the same story to drive-in goers fifty years ago! Heck, 42nd Street wore out this clichéd genre in 1933. If Glitter's only purpose was to act as a 100 minute commercial for its own soundtrack, as the Pokemon cartoons are simply ads for Pokemon toys, it fails there too, since it makes these crummy songs even less palatable in context than they would be standing on their own. So why does Glitter still exist? Was it financed by someone with a grudge against Mariah Carey, and she never caught on that she was being pranked until after its release? As a practical joke played on a gullible and vain pop diva, Glitter is pure malevolent genius. If, however, we were meant to have taken it seriously, then it's just a really, thoroughly worthless movie.
Poll question: Which pop diva embarrassed herself worst? JLo in Gigli, Jessica in The Dukes of Hazzard, Britney in Crossroads, Clarkson in From Justin to Kelly or Mariah in this piece of drek? I vote Mariah in a close race.
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