Over my time of writing reviews for DVD Times I have to come to an unpleasant realisation; I’m a sucker for crap movies. Maybe I’m just looking for the film that is really very good when everyone else says it’s bad - though maybe I just enjoy watching rubbish movies. Sometimes these movies are bad but I just like them - Honest for instance I felt was ill-conceived rather than being bad. Others are ripped apart as if they should be Oscar winning material when they always intended to be throwaway nonsense: The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas for one. Then there are those which are just bad – plain and simple. A major flag bearer in this category has to be Battlefield Earth, but Glitter is certainly another heavyweight contender.
The story, as it is, pretty much doomed the production from the start. Making a Star is Born style film was so likely to be corny that it never really had a chance. Mariah Carey stars as Billie Frank, daughter of a club-singing single mother, but brought up in a care home after her mother’s alcohol addiction gets too much. Fast forward to New York 1983 and Billie is singing in clubs with her two friends from the orphanage Louise (Da Brat) and Roxanne (Tia Texada). She’s first discovered by Timothy Walker (Terrence Howard) who uses her as a backing singer but really to mask out the bad singing of his main performer. She’s then spotted by “Dice” (Max Beesley), a DJ who realises that she has the potential to go all the way to the top. Soon she’s signed to a major record label and taking New York by storm, as well as being in love with Dice. But things were never going to be that easy. Her friends are quickly dropped by the wayside and then Dice himself is edged out by the record company, leading to jealousy, rows and upset. Add to the mix a seriously pissed off Timothy Walker, who never got paid his money for releasing Billie from her original contract, and we’re heading for a “dramatic” finale.
As I previously said, giving Mariah a sort of “rags-to-riches” film like this was always in danger of being less than great, but it’s a lot more than that that makes this film a stinker. It’s also the acting, the dialogue and the direction. Mariah just hasn’t got enough acting talent to carry off a lead role, especially as this was her debut. (That isn’t strictly true, she was in The Bachelor but only for about 15 seconds). In fairness, her leading man must take most of the blame. Max Beesley tries to be “New York cool” but just swaggers around looking incredibly stupid, complete with an ever-changing dodgy American accent. Good on him for his attitude about the movie though; he was recently quoted as saying he couldn’t care less as he got paid a fair wedge for his role. Adding to this is the dialogue they have to work with, which is often appalling as well; the scene where Dice takes Billie on their first “date” is simply cringe worthy. Which brings us to the direction. Vondie Curtis-Hall felt the need to add bizarre visual effects to many scenes, where people speed up in a scene, or suddenly jump from one place to another. It’s enough to make you think that your DVD player is malfunctioning.
The film unsurprisingly tanked hugely at the box office when it was released in America in 2001. It probably didn’t help that both the movie and the accompanying album came out around September 11th, when no one was really in the mood for lightweight rubbish like this.
Is it fair to have a pop at poor old Mariah at the moment, given the disaster that was this film, and coupled with her new record deal being canned and her recent well-publicized mental breakdown? Well actually, she’s not that poor, given the fact that Virgin Records paid her off $28 million not to make any more albums. So therefore I feel no guilt in saying that this film and the main performances are just as bad as everyone says they are. It’s not even “so-bad-it’s-good” so it’s well deserving of its place in IMDB’s bottom 100 movies.
It may be a bad film, but it certainly doesn’t look bad. The 2.40:1 anamorphic picture starts very low on colour, but this is a deliberate effect. When the main part of the film starts, colours are rich and vibrant and the image is very clear and well defined.
If you desperately want the edges hacked off the sides of the picture, then there is a full screen image on the other side of the disc.
Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also impressive. There is good use of all the channels, with ambient sound and music clear and directional. The club scenes in particular sound good, with the acoustics correctly balanced.
All the worst movies have the best extras, right? Well no, not here, as there is an average set of supplements only. There is no “making of” and no deleted scenes, so the main extra is a commentary by director Vondie Curtis-Hall. Clearly new to the process of providing commentaries, he starts very slowly with lots of pausing and general “umming and erring” (though to be fair he does improve as the film progresses). This was clearly recorded well after the film’s monumental failure at the box office, but he offers no thoughts on this at all. Rather, he talks of “wonderful actors”, “soaring performances” and the “wonderful chemistry between Max Beesley and Mariah Carey”. He also talks about deleted and alternate scenes that never made it to the disc, one in particular might have been interesting if it had done. I have heard worse commentaries and there is some interesting info here buried amongst the dross; largely though, this is the commentary that this poor movie deserves.
There are two Mariah music videos for songs from the film, which is not much of a surprise. Both are presented in 2.0 stereo. The video for Loverboy is a new one, but the one for Never Too Far just repeats the performance segment from the film and as such is one of the most pointless extras ever added to a DVD.
There are three trailers, but only one for this film (in non-anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo). The other two are for different movies, being Center Stage (full screen, 2.0 stereo) and Dance With Me (full screen and 5.1 surround).
Finally there are a set of Filmographies for the major stars and director. Mariah Carey gets a Discography instead.
Unsurprisingly, there are no ROM extras.
This is a movie only for huge fans of Mariah, and those who love crap cinema. The disc looks good and sounds good, but that’s about it.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 18:09:25