I like to think that I took one for the team. I didn't ask the rest of the staff if anyone else wanted to review Glitter because, well…because it was Glitter. Most of the reviewers at DVD Verdict, I suspect, would have rather shoved cucumbers up their nostrils than have had to sit through this cheesefest that seems to have crawled up out of the 1988 rejected movie vault. In the same vein as Battlefield Earth and that ugly blues/rock album Bruce Willis released a few years back, Glitter was a high-profile vanity project for diva singer Mariah Carey to show off her talents (for this reviewer that translates into really big boobs and tight dresses). The point of Glitter was to show that Carey could not only sing but also act. You see, Mariah also knows how to emote. That may very well be, but according to this movie one thing Miss Carey doesn't know how to do is pick a coherent script. Here now, for all the world to laugh at, is the hideous bomb Glitter from Columbia TriStar.
Facts of the Case
Billie Frank (Carey) is the love child of a black woman and a white man. As a child Billie knew only poverty and her mother's love. Unfortunately, even that was cut short when Billie's mother (Valerie Pettiford) fell asleep one night while smoking and burned down their house. Wisely, Billie is shuffled off to a local orphanage where she meets a couple of kids who will eventually become her best friends. Flash forward to Billie all grown up and singing backup with her two orphanage friends for an untalented woman and her record producing boyfriend (Terrance Howard). While Billie is secretly recording the woman's vocals, ala Milli Vanilli, she's spotted by a hot young DJ named Dice (Max Beesley) who buys her contract for $100,000. Flash forward again as Dice lands Billie a record contract, woos her into a whirlwind romance, and gets her a number one single on the charts. Then Dice suddenly becomes a jerk just because he can (and it makes for what screenwriters like to call "conflict"). Flash forward some more and you get some drama, some singing, a few annoying CGI scene transitions, and of course, tragedy. Will all of Billie's dreams come true, or is her party about to end?
Wow…wow, wow, wow.
(Pause for 15 minutes to let that all sink in).
Glitter is a bad movie. In fact, it's not just a bad movie but a horrible one. I'm not just saying this because I can't stand Mariah Carey's music. I'm not a particular fan of Jim Carrey yet I readily enjoyed Man On The Moon. No, Glitter fails on so many other different levels that it's like a 25-story building, each floor filled with hundreds of reasons why Glitter just doesn't cut the mustard. Could it be the fact that the story shuffles on so quickly that we're never given time to care about or put stock into any of the characters? Or maybe it's because most all the actors put forth so much effort to display emotion that it makes the whole damn thing look like a community college production? Or, maybe it's just because Mariah Carey has all the range of a paraplegic baseball pitcher?
I'm trying to imagine the pitch meeting for Glitter and it's giving me the shivers. Here is what I am picturing:
Executive #1: "Bob, I'm telling you Mariah Carey is hot! She's hot, baby! Her fans are CLAMORING for a movie! Okay, well maybe no clamoring, but I'm sure someone wants to see her in a film."
Executive #2: "Dave, I think that you've got something there. But do you really think it will do good business?"
Executive #1: "Good business? How can it fail? Unless there's a national tragedy that completely preoccupies the country, Glitter will rake in billions!"
Executive #2: "We can't lose!" (famous last words)
While there were supporters, I am sure that there had to have been at least a few studio workers who saw this train wreck coming from a mile away. I can't really blame Mariah for the entire debacle (though it's fun to try). The problem started from the ground up with the horrid script by Kate Lanier. Lanier has proved that she's just as adept at writing horrible scripts (The Mod Squad) as she is at writing good ones (What's Love Got To Do With It?). In this script, people seem to come and go in Billie's life without much rhyme or reason. Much of the dialogue sounds forced or amateurish. Just when there's a scene that might be interesting, the film whisks us off months ahead in the story. The climactic/yet tragic/yet happy/yet poignant ending seems rushed, almost as if the filmmakers didn't know how to successfully develop the scenes.
The actors in the film don't help matters much. Carey is able to "act" by definition, though her I suspect that her character wasn't much of a stretch for her to play since it's basically Mariah playing Mariah. Carey shows us that she can cry on cue, giggle like a Catholic schoolgirl, and belt out a tune at the drop of a hat. Not exactly Oscar winning material. Everyone else in this abysmal cast seems to be orbiting around Carey like she was a dark moon at the center of an even darker universe. Max Beesley as her abrasive boyfriend Dice is the whitest black man I've ever seen. No one else in the film deserves special mention because, well, they're just not good enough to warrant it. And the music! Oy vey! Mariah, squeals, screeches, and orgasms her way to as many high notes as she can hit. My Lord—Carey's music is the exact reason why earmuffs were invented. And that title! Let's take a look at Carey's recent album titles: "Butterfly," "Daydream," "Rainbow." Carey seems to have all the artistic growth of a Smurf. Sadly, much of her dippy-do music is peppered all over Glitter from beginning to end. I think that I can use this phrase safely for only one movie in my entire reviewing career, and Glitter is it: this movie is every man's worst nightmare. Even with the promise of unbridled sex from his date if he watches it, men everywhere will scamper as far away from the TV sets if they catch even one note of Carey's undulating vocal chords. It's as if someone took this disc and dipped it in saccharine and sugar just for kicks. Even the DVD menus sparkle so heavily that one might assume they'd accidentally picked up a copy of "My Little Pony: The Movie."
What more is there to say? Glitter is a harsh wake-up call to superstar singers who entertain thoughts at making it in films—please, don't waste your time. Unless your name is Will Smith, stay the hell off of celluloid.
Glitter is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a great looking transfer that shows vivid colors and Carey's crystal clear plunging cleavage line. Black levels look solid while the picture includes depth and clarity. There is a slight amount of edge enhancement in a few areas, though overall this ends up being a great looking picture. Please go back and make sure you understand that this paragraph is about the transfer, NOT the film. Also included on this disc is a pan and scan version of the film, which is the equivalent of substituting a thumb up your butt for a pinky finger.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and French. Surprisingly, this is a very well mixed track that utilizes the surround feature often. There are many scenes that take place in a noisy club or disco and the 5.1 track kicks in aggressively. Bass is thick and deep while dialogue, effects, and music are never distorted. For a film that made me physically ill, I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed this audio track was. Also included on this disc are English and French subtitles. Note to the French: Jerry Lewis has nothing on Glitter. If you want to see what true comedy is, rent this lil' puppy.
How Columbia wrangled director Vondie Curtis Hall into doing a commentary track is beyond me. Yet, here he is chatting away about what must be the low point (or end) of his career. At one point Hall discusses about how he had a "vision." HAHAHAHAHAHA! Excuse me. I had to get that out of my system. Otherwise, this audio commentary is relatively informative with Hall discussing different aspects of the production. While he doesn't seem especially proud of his film, at least Hall doesn't sound very embarrassed. He's gotta be on drugs.
Also included on this disc are two music videos by Mariah Carey: "Loverboy," which follows Carey as she prances around a drag race in clothes so tight that her nipples come dangerously close to shooting out and killing someone, and "Never Too Far," a concert video of Mariah singing while her fans hold up lighters and sway. [Editor's Note: Wait…this is a Styx movie?] Finally there are some filmographies on the principal cast members and trailers for Glitter, the dance movie Center Stage, and the ballet bomb Dance With Me.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This review IS the rebuttal witness.
Mariah Carey could have used her talented vocal chords for either good or evil. Sadly, she chose evil, which means our children will be forced to attend their proms while dancing to songs like "Hero" and "I'll Be There." I weep for the future.
Glitter is found guilty on many levels, the highest being that it was made. Columbia is pardoned for doing decent work on this title.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Commentary by Director Vondie Curtis Hall
Review content copyright © 2002 Patrick Naugle; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.