Judge Bill Gibron is still waiting for the Uschi Digart biopic!
The Price of Fame? Oh, about a buck-fifty.
She died six years ago. Why it took so long to bring the tragic tale of Marilyn Monroe / Jayne Mansfield / Mamie Van Doren wannabe Anna Nicole Smith to the screen (small screen, that is) can easily be answered in one sentence: No one gave a sh*t. No really. No one cared. No one cared when she was alive, ridiculing her obvious substance abuse issues and making her depressing decent into full blown cartoon mockery-otherwise known as E!'s The Anna Nicole Show-a national laughing stock. Indeed, if it wasn't for her titties and her unfettered desire to show them to the world, her talent-free blonde bimbo act would have no meaning in 2014. But you know The Lifetime Network. They never met a tawdry, tantalizing subject they couldn't exploit with their own patented version of veiled truth. So they hired Agnes "Who?" Bruckner (24), slapped on a fake chest piece, and began the process of burying the former Vicki Lynn Hogan with faint praise and mounds of manipulative movie melodrama.
We are first introduced to the woman in a surreal bit of time travel. A young Vicki Lynn looks in the mirror and sees her slutty future self. Before we know it, Ma (Virginia Madsen, Candyman) and Pa are a-fussin' and a-fightin' leaving their young-un looking for some pleasure in life. As a teen, Vicki finds it in underage sex. One unexpected young-un of her own later, and exotic dancing becomes a calling. With the help of some DD implants, Vicki becomes Anna Nicole, and soon the tabloid tales start falling into place. There's the May to VERY, VERY late in December romance with J. Howard Marshall (Martin Landau, Ed Wood), the battles with his son E. Pierce (Cary Elwes, Saw) over his father's fortune, the involvement both professionally and personally with lawyer Howard K. Stern (Adam Goldberg, Zodiac), and the late in life tragedy of her son's death. Not long after, Ms. Smith takes a similar nosedive into addiction, scandal, and a far too young dirt nap.
Mary Harron of I Shot Andy Warhol and The Notorious Betty Page fame should be ashamed. Her previous films glorified a more pro-feminist approach to material as diverse as an assassination attempt on a famous figure and a pre-post-modern pin-up model. But here, it's all about the sleazy and the seedy. Granted, that's what Anna Nicole's story was: how the promise of sex and the selling of same lead one woman down a wrong-headed path toward social stigmas and struggles. There is no denying why this particular powder puff was famous. She had large breasts and a "come hither" hum that made it seem like she was ready, willing, and always available. Even during her later public humiliations, when she appeared semi-coherent and holding onto the last brain cell for dear life, there was still a bed and breakfast quality to her persona. She's wasn't a comedian, she was comedy. She was slapstick and scatology wrapped up in an oversized brassiere and BJ lips.
This abysmal excuse for a biopic changes none of that. Anna Nicole is never viewed as misunderstood or marginalized by the media. Instead, she is seen as slightly stupid, naive to a San Andreas fault, and constantly seeking the approval she would NEVER ever be able to earn legitimately. She was a heavily made-up clown with a fetching bosom as her exploding cigar, and her late in life decades-long meltdown was proof of her personal demonology. Perhaps what this lax film should have focused on was the wrongheaded move to turn the otherwise Playboy posing stripper into a movie star. She didn't have it, and forcing it out of her made for many of her lingering issues. Naturally, Anna Nicole just skims over this, riding wave after wave of pointless pandering until the next commercial break comes along. Of course, by the first fifteen or so minutes, all we are looking for is the end card.
As DVDs go, Sony's Anna Nicole isn't bad. It offers a clean and crisp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and some subtitles. No bonus features. No Harron commentary. No actor/actress interviews. Just the basics. At least the film is colorful and the dialogue is easily discernible. Of course, nothing technical can save you from the skeezy experience on display here.
Anna Nicole Smith may have been a cruel, commercial joke, but she was a human being. Treated her like so much TMZ trash is just one of Anna Nicole's many misgivings.
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