Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#LizAndDick: My review

Oh my fucking God!

I only hope that when they do the Lindsay Lohan TV biopic – and they will – that it’s as jaw droppingly atrocious as LIZ AND DICK. They will need to find the worst actress in America to play Lindsay, if only to do the same justice to her as she did to Ms. Taylor. Although I don’t know if a worse actress can be found. Lindsay might have to play herself – assuming she’s still with us and not locked up somewhere.

LIZ AND DICK (by the way, never, not once are they referred to as Liz and Dick in the movie – it’s always Elizabeth and Richard) is the cheese-rich schlock film of the year. Imagine Ed Wood directing a screenplay by a 7th grader and starring, well… Lindsay Lohan.

The only question was: yeah, it’s fun watching a trainwreck for awhile. But could I stick it out until the very end? So I wrote this review in real time knowing that at any point I might just have to shut it off and plunge an ice pick in my head.   These were my impressions as the movie unraveled. 

Oh… SPOILER ALERT. I spoil everything. So if you don’t want to know what happens, I’ll see you tomorrow. But I believe in this case you’re going to want to know what happened. Either you’re not going to see this tripe anyway or once you read this you'll be compelled to see it because you think I’m making all this up.   Further WARNING – this is the type of movie that brings out the snark in me in a big big way. Ready? Here goes:

This guy is Richard Burton? He’s like Jim from THE OFFICE with a phony accent. (Grant Bowler is his name. He should fire his agent.)

When was Richard Burton blonde?  Or am I just being too picky about minor details?  

We start with Richard’s last day alive. Adventures in bad make up. He's gray.  This is like when Jr. High kids play the Ezio Pinza part in SOUTH PACIFIC.

On the set of CLEOPATRA. Lindsay’s make up is laughable. What’s with that eyeliner? The movie should be called PEE WEE AND DICK.

First Richard Burton drunk scene. First of many I suspect. Foster Brooks was more subtle.

Zero chemistry between Liz and Dick. More romantic sparks would fly with Barbara Bush and Jon Lovitz.

I don’t understand. Suddenly there’s this convention where they’re both being interviewed. Where did that come from?  And at what point in their relationship was it supposed to be?

And seriously, why is he blonde? Oh wait.  I bet they just got Richard Burton mixed up with Peter O'Toole.  Common mistake. 

Someone says to Liz: “You’ve just ended your fourth marriage!” to which Liz defiantly replies, “Who’s counting?”  What a withering zinger!

It’s 0:17. I pretty much got the gist. Nah, I’ll stick it out a little longer.

Glad I did. Richard now says: “I don’t need a pool. I’ve got a whole ocean in you.” Smooooth.

This is the suicide segment. First Sybil Burton tries it unsuccessfully, and that guilts Richard into breaking up with Liz. Two seconds after hearing this news she runs to her room, downs a bottle of sleeping pills, and chug-a-lugs a half bottle of Vodka. Maybe it’s me, but if you find yourself laughing at a suicide scene then it doesn’t have the emotional wallop the filmmakers intended. That’s at 0:29. Okay, I’ll give it one more segment.

Richard: “My heart is broken and you have the smashed pieced!” Not since THE LADY EVE has there been such crackling dialogue.

Ooooh. At the 0:31 mark Lindsay cries. She’s truly awful at it. And you’d think she’d have all that practice in court.

Elizabeth has a different fur in every scene.

They’re making THE V.I.P.’s now. This oughtta be good.

0:54 – Liz is trying to seduce Dick. Vamp music plays. She’s in a sexy teddy. Instead of Richard Burton I kept picturing Lindsay’s parole officer.

Richard: “What if your little songbird Eddie decides to drag things out for months?” Since when did he become Sam Spade?  We hit the hour mark.

At 1:07 they get married, pressured by the Pope. Yes, that Pope.

Are they ever going back to Richard’s last day? What’s the point of that?

No mention of the suicide either. I guess that was just a one-time kookoo thing and now she’s the picture of mental health.

Richard: “Happy?” Elizabeth: “More than.” Tony Kushner, eat your heart out!

I was just about to turn it off at the 1:09 mark when Richard takes a bow for his HAMLET and brings Elizabeth on stage with him. She takes a bow for a play she wasn’t in.

This is now the SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER of TV biopics.

Big crisis: Richard loses an Academy Award to Lee Marvin. He doesn’t handle it well the way most husbands do and it puts a big strain on their marriage. Maybe a drink or thirty would help.

At 1:11 comes my favorite line in the movie. Richard and Elizabeth are staging a mock fight for writer Ernest Lehman to show they’re right for the film version of WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Elizabeth has the topper with: “Mellifluous. Was he some Roman homosexual that you buttered?”

The recreation of Richard and Elizabeth in VIRGINIA WOOLF looked like a bad SNL sketch. But that’s not the good part. Richard and Elizabeth are in a theater watching it. On the screen Liz says, “You make me puke!” They then cut to the audience where a viewer turns to Liz and says, “You were fantastic!” Okay, now they’re trying for laughs, right? I mean, seriously? Complimenting Elizabeth Taylor on the reading of her vomit line?

The interview is back. Where was it the last half hour? And why is it even there at all? Ask him why he's blonde.

At this point they fight, make up, fight, make up again. In the Lindsay biopic they can re-film the same scenes just substituting Lindsay’s mother for Richard Burton.

Now they have money problems. But wait, after their accountant tells them they’re broke they buy a giant yacht, a private plane, and a diamond the size of a water tumbler. This last purchase comes after Elizabeth says: “I need a ring. A big ring.” We’re at 1:26. I am sooo close to switching to Sportscenter.

I should have. At the 1:40 mark there’s an elaborate 40th birthday party for Liz (I thought they had money woes?) with waiters dressed like Cleopatra’s slaves or those buttered Roman homosexuals and Liz overhears a guest saying, “She still thinks she’s a movie star.”

This sends our fragile heroine into a tizzy and she runs to her room. How come no suicide attempt?  Instead she begins the single worst crying scene in the history of cinema. Lindsay must’ve been channeling a caterwauling baby and Lucy. I’m guessing if she cried like that before a judge that’s why she was sentenced to jail time. Painful to watch and torture to hear.

Liz correctly says, “I’m a joke!” and consoling Richard says, “No, no. You’re my love.” I'm about to down a bottle of pills. 

Okay, from this point I just skimmed the rest. I couldn’t stand it. They finally go back to his last day. Hooray. Always good storytelling to set something up and return it to promptly two hours later. But now that we’ve seen his life, what insights does he have as a result? What new perspective does he have? Has he reached any conclusion about his life and his actions? When we last left him he was saying to somebody, “I’m tired.” Now we pick him up walking into the next room, lying down on the bed for a nap, and that’s it. He dies. Wow. What a sequence! I skipped through Liz fainting (another great acting moment worthy of a sack of flour) and went right to her visiting his grave. As they showed her at the tombstone they flashed the watermark:  #LizAndDick. Perfect time to troll for Twitter action.

Then they went back to the interview. Huh? Isn’t he dead? Oh wait. Maybe they recorded this interview in heaven after they both died?

End the fucking movie already! Please! I’ll watch an episode of AMERICA’S SUPERNANNY. Just make it stop!

Mercifully, they do. With one final great touch. They end by proving unequivocally that Liz really did love Richard. Here’s what they flashed on the screen:


Well, I guess that nails it.

According to one biography, Richard Burton slept with 2500 women in his lifetime.  Just think of the sequel possibilities!  


Carol said...

Nothing about the movie - didn't see it, had no desire to - but I had a Friday question.

Tell me about set-dressers.

I sometimes think they are really unappreciated, unsung heroes of television and movies.

I remember once seeing an episode of Full House (Don't judge me) and John Stamo's character was in a high school English classroom, and there was a game called 'Playing Shakespeare' in the background. I noticed it because I own that game, and I remember being sort of impressed someone thought to include that in the set.

How does one become a set dresser? Are they interior designers? Do they work with the writer mostly, or the director? How much freedom do they get generally to decide what characters would have in their homes/offices, etc?

Pat Reeder said...

Think of the sequel possibilities if they combined the 2500 women Burton slept with and all the women Lindsay's slept with.

I haven't seen this yet, but I have it on DVR, awaiting the moment when my stomach can handle it. I saw a promo clip on Jay Leno. The only Emmy this should win is one for Jay's acting when he praised Lindsay's performance. There was more hilariously bad acting and flat "what's that in the road? A head?" style line-reading in that one short clip than in a whole season of "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

Also, I was never a big Liz Taylor fan, but I do recall her having a high-pitched voice with a vaguely British-sounding accent. Lindsay sounded like a Valley Girl who just smoked three cartons of Winstons.

Madame Duchery said...

JFC!! I kept a couple boyfriends' letters because I wanted to always have a record of how crazy they were (and how crazy they made me) so I WOULDN'T EVER DO IT AGAIN. Must... burn... those... letters... NOW.

Tom Quigley said...

Watched about five minutes of it. Couldn't take it. Switched over to Sunday Night Football to watch another disaster in the making (the Green Bay Packers).

Lindsay Lohan's career is going so badly right now that if she were chosen to play herself in a TV movie about her life, critics would say "I don't know... She just doesn't capture the essence of Lindsay Lohan..."

iain said...

Zero chemistry between Liz and Dick. More romantic sparks would fly with Barbara Bush and Jon Lovitz.

I would so tune in for that!

Max Clarke said...

Saw the trailer, Ken, didn't watch the biopic, but your coverage was more entertaining I expect.

Friday question about names. Do most screenwriters shoot for names that reveal the nature of the character, or is that just a bonus? Sam Malone started the first scene of the first episode alone and ended up alone, Frasier Crane was the one with the big cranium.

Mac said...

Dayum - that sounds brutal. It sounds like classic stunt casting - here's someone who got famous as a kid as well! Burton and Taylor's lives were so looney tunes, it's tough to see how you couldn't get an entertaining story out of them.
And didn't the Pope have better things to think about? Was he angling for an invite?

RockGolf said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Angus T Jones. Need I say more? What would you do if you were Chuck Lorre?

(HV word: Outeven!)

Sunshine Vitamin said...

The scandalous story of Liz and Dick screams for big scenes and high drama, and yet, this was unbelievably flat acting and terrible storytelling with no payoff. I watched for 10 minutes hoping at least for some fun, but no... High school productions have better acting, people.

For the remake: Susan Lucci and Thomas Hayden Church! And a better script!

Bandit said...

I didn't realize Liz's legs were so bruised.

Simon H. said...

Quick Friday Question: Any thoughts from you on the ugly Twitter feud between Chris Brown and comedian Jenny Johnson over the weekend?

Natalie said...

The accuracy of that post. Well done capturing all of the highlights. I'm just sorry I can't get that two hours of my life back

Unknown said...

Watched the last 20 minutes which was the perfect amount of time. This was the funniest movie of the year.

For the record, you assume an actress would play Lindsay in her biopic.
No, sir.
I heartily recommend Nick Nolte. Same raspy voice, same old, weathered face.

Howard Hoffman said...

If you didn't see it (as I didn't), go check the #lizanddick hash tag at Twitter...especially @PattonOswalt. It's a great supplement to this post by Ken. It's everything you need to know about this disaster.

Howard Hoffman said...

Example: RT @pattonoswalt - "Wow, that's a scratchy voice." -- Keith Richards, watching LIZ & DICK. #lizanddick

Cap'n Bob said...

Burton had blond hair in ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1956). I think he also went platinum for another role, perhaps as a Nazi.

I love a good hatchet job, Ken. Thanks for suffering through this turkey so we don't have to.

Anonymous said...

Why did you go see this film? I wouldn't watch Ms. Lohan play with her breasts in a film, much less watch her act.


Alan Tomlinson

Donald said...

A Friday question:

No doubt you've seen the YouTube video of the "Big Bang Theory" cast surprising their showrunners with a flash mob rendition of "Call Me Maybe." What's the most surprising thing one of your ensembles teamed up to do for you?

jlhpisces said...

Oooh, too bad about Grant Bowler, he's been in some great Australian shows. Why they decided to pick Lindsay Lohan for this I just can't understand. Thankfully with this review, I won't have to watch and be tortured!

RCP said...

Thanks for the laughs, Ken.

I'm usually a sucker for a campfest, but I couldn't take more than a few minutes of this - part of it is that I tend to remember Taylor for the last couple of decades of her life and all the good she did - and wasn't into seeing her reduced to where this portrayal was going.

I know it's pointless to wonder: With all the talent out there - actors, writers, directors...why is this crap produced?

Halloween Jack said...

I saw the Liz Taylor biopic with Sherilyn Fenn, and even though it covered a lot of turf pretty quickly, whipping through husbands and crises so quickly that the script seemed almost completely composed of National Enquirer headlines, she sure was pretty in it.

The main thing that I seemed to get out of press coverage of this thing, though, was press coverage of the big bill that La Lohan ran up at the Chateau Marmont (she actually lives closer to the set, but apparently insisted on being put up for the duration of the shoot), and how she trashed the on-set trailer that had formerly belonged to Taylor herself (she got it for Cleopatra, and it had been carefully preserved since then with the original furnishings).

And, for all that, the studio didn't get much. I have difficulty feeling sorry for them; they can add their names to the long list of her enablers, and maybe the future victims of Lohan's jewelry-stealing and car-crashing escapades can simply send them the bills as the Marmont and trailer owners did.

D. McEwan said...

Grant Bowler is a really good actor, though he has certainly gotten some bad career advice: along with this garbage, he's in the execrable movies of Ayn Rand's execrable novel Atlas Shrugged. Really, that's the sort of project where you say: "I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to use my acting powers for Evil."

But he was quite good as the mysterious Captain of the mysterious freighter in the mysterious 4th season of mysterious Lost, and he did a good job in the Anthony Perkins role in the TV movie remake of On the Beach. Also, the accent may not have been phony, just the wrong accent: He's Australian.

Let's be fair: Liz Taylor's eye make-up in Cleopatra was over-the-top idiotic, but Liz covered it up by distracting viewers with one of her worst performances. (Don't get me wrong. I loved Liz. She was often a very fine actress, and for her tireless work against AIDS I'd nominate her for sainthood, but she was awful in Cleopatra.)

"Elizabeth has a different fur in every scene." Well duh! If I was certain without seeing it of anything, I was certain that "Liz" would NEVER be seen in the same thing twice. Nobody ever wore a fur twice on Dynasty either, and it went on and on and on for years and years. Hundreds of furs. Thousands of furs!

“I don’t need a pool. I’ve got a whole ocean in you.” Man, that is some top-prize cheese.

"Big crisis: Richard loses an Academy Award to Lee Marvin. He doesn’t handle it well the way most husbands do and it puts a big strain on their marriage. Maybe a drink or thirty would help."

Yes, but he needed the thirty drinks before he gave the Oscar-losing performance, since Lee beat him by playing the ulitmate comedy-drunk.

Pat Reeder said...
"Also, I was never a big Liz Taylor fan, but I do recall her having a high-pitched voice with a vaguely British-sounding accent."

Yes, that was because Dame Elizabeth Taylor was British, born in London, a British subject, to American parents. Her family only came to America when Liz was 7, escaping the Nazi menace.

TV movies like this are worth it for snark like this. Poor Grant Bowler.

jbryant said...

She really said "buttered," not "buggered"? Of course, I suppose it's easier to bugger Roman homosexuals if they're buttered.

Matt Patton said...

D. McEwan:

My favorite review of Taylor in Cleopatra came from Stanley Kauffmann in the New Republic -- "She need only cross a room to transform ancient Alexandria into Beverly Hills."

Almost as funny as when he complimented Sandra Dee and John Saxon on their bravery (for giving such bad performances in the same film as Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall). The movie, if I remember correctly, was The Reluctant Debutante.

Muzza said...

Grant Bowler is a New Zealander.

Janice said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this post!! Please include more reviews on your blog - this was hilarious.

Mike McCann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike McCann said...

So Richard Burton slept with 2500 women. Didn't Wilt Chamberlain claim to have bedded 20,000 ladies?? Maybe that would be the basis of a better movie -- with Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias' "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" used as the theme.

Seems to have more potential. And likely, a happier ending.

Jest Jake said...

Liz and Dick was after all a Lifetime movie, we shouldn't have expected Oscar worthy performances, this despite Michael Lohan comparing the lazy Lindsay to Meryl Streep, saying that his daughter was even superior to the 3-time Oscar winner (and 17 nomintions),,, Welcome to Delusional Land Mr Lohan.

And, of course, Ms Lohan was shocked to hear that he performance was so bad, "What? I'm the best smoker of cigarettes the screen as ever seen." But not so surprised that she couldn't blame the writer for his, "...horrible script."

When a movie isn't well received it's always "blame the writer" never that the actor is just plain lousy.

A_Homer said...

a two-fer:
- There is a really excellent BBC documentary on the Making of Cleopatra, which I would suggest instead.

- On another tangent, a bizarre "Cheers"/"Are you there Chelsea" alignment in an excerpt from tv guide on Laura Prepon:
"... Big Wangs, which reminds Laura of the New Jersey sports bar where her character works. “People should be able to relate to this set,” she says. “Like Cheers, it’s a place where you grab a beer and watch the game. Except this time I’m the Sam Malone.”

Johnny Walker said...

Friday questions, ├╝ber nerd edition:

(I'm pretty sure that these are the nerdiest Cheers questions outside of the 1993 Comicon.)

- Part way through season 9 or 10 (long before the bar burnt down), Sam's baseball photo behind the bar was replaced with a different one. After nearly a decade of it being there, I just had to wonder why!

- Frasier's beard. Kelsey Grammer suddenly sports a beard in one episode, and everyone in the bar comments in it. Was it a big deal the Grammer changed his look, or was it just a good opportunity for some jokes?

- is it just me, or does the episode "Look Before You Sleep" feature canned laughter? (Even the studio bits.) There's the same laugh for anything that could slightly raise a smile.

- Season 11 seems to set up a Frasier spin-off perfectly. Was that done on purpose?

Storm said...

@Johnny: I think Kelsey's beard was because of a stage role he was doing at the same time; IIRC, it was a Shakespeare play? I want to say he was playing Falstaff in "Henry V"? But I'm probably just talkin' out my neck.

Back in '98, I was watching my soap, Another World (hey, it was a generational tradition amongst the females in my family, don't judge me!), and there was yet another little girl on that day playing Allie, the grand daughter of the show's matriarch (who had managed to go from infant to 12 years old in the space of about 6 years, as soap kids do; they went through easily a dozen kids). But that day, and for the next year or so, she was played by this plucky, talented girl with auburn hair, freckles, and a great smile. I remember thinking "This kid is too good for this show, she's Going Places".

That girl was Lindsay Lohan. I have never regretted being right about someone more; she went places, alright, and right past them into The Hell Of Being Washed Up By 30. Have mercy.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


kent said...

Count yourself lucky, you could have been watching the Lakers play the Pacers.

OomPaul said...

One of the odder little moments of my life came when I was browsing through the Warner's Museum at the Burbank lot. This was in 2002, when Elizabeth Taylor was still alive, which made it doubly surprising:

There were two notes in a showcase: The first, from Taylor to "Mr.Warner", graciously thanked him for giving her the opportunity to play opposite Burton in the Bard's Taming of the Shrew, and expressing hope that she and Richard had turned in a performance worthy of the confidence Warner had shown.
The second, from Warner to the director, Zeffirelli, admitted that Warner's reticence over the casting was wrong, because after all, he should have known that Burton was the one who could "keep that bitch in line."