Glitter (review)

All that Glitters Is a Hilarious Cinematic Disaster

Thank you, Mariah, for scheduling your breakdown over the summer. If Glitter had been released in August, as originally planned (a plan foiled by your inability to promote the film, seeing as how you were probably filling your days by staring into space), then our Great Nation would have been deprived of the chance to laugh — and laugh hard — when we needed it most, in this, our Darkest Hour.

Truly, it must be Great Patriotism on Carey’s part, that she engineered the withholding of Glitter till now, when we all would need reminding that there were other dark times our nation has weathered, and come through stronger. Such as the era of disco and its bastard child, the Early 80s. Yes, there was once a time when bad music, bad fashion, and breakdancing combined to cow our nation into submission. And yet, as Glitter reminds us, merely by allowing us to contrast the present with that unholy world, we survived. We made it. Though the road was long and the odds against us, we were not defeated.
Plus, Glitter reminds us that there is nothing more all-American — nothing more worth fighting for — than a cute-as-a-button pop star who thinks she can act.

Glitter is the almost entirely made up, not at all Mariah Carey’s own story of how one naive, innocent, unsophisticated young ingenue of a girl became a star. It’s like Coyote Ugly, only way funnier. It’s like Coal Miner’s Daughter, only really, really bad. It’s hopelessly naive about the music industry, about human relationships, even about the lifespan of the average housecat. It is atrociously written (sample dialogue: “Whatever. I mean, come on.”), by Cheryl L. West and Kate Lanier, the latter of whom wrote the incomprehensible Mod Squad. It is amateurishly directed (slo-mo for a first kiss), by Vondie Curtis-Hall. And it is horrendously acted. Carey’s performance alone — as Billie Frank, a near-orphan who rebounds from being raised by the State of New York to headline at Madison Square Garden after having a single Number 1 song — is certain to make Glitter a cult classic, one that lovers of camp watch at Glitter parties, one that inspires the creation of The Glitter Drinking Game (drink one shot each time Carey bats her doe eyes; drink two shots each time she bobs her head to indicate girly shyness).

Poor Billie is wallowing in anonymous non-celebrity, working as a backup singer in early 80s New York clubs and for unscrupulous and vaguely menacing music producers when a hero comes along, with the strength to ride her coattails to fame: Dice, a club deejay with the awesome power to promise the world to numbskulls like Billie, and have her believe him. Dice is played by the hilariously incompetent Max Beesley, whose greatest talent appears to be in the wearing of sleeveless sweatshirts. Drink one shot whenever Dice’s pendant, which reads “Dice,” comes into view. Drink two shots whenever Dice cries.

Drink one shot whenever sparks explode from Billie’s head (or maybe it’s “glitter”) to indicate her sweet, innocent, girlish enthusiasm. Drink one shot for each snippet of overproduced music (this one is sure to get you ripped by half an hour into the film), proudly produced by Carey herself. Drink two shots each time the unnamed “superstar” appears, the cute black guy Billie swoons over and never gets introduced to us, the mere audience.

Finally, chug three shots for Glitter‘s climax of absurdity: the telepathic songwriting scene.

Take two aspirin before you pass out. Repeat as needed.

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