Thick and thin. Dice and Billie (Beesley and Carey) have a movie kinda love...
dir Vondie Curtis Hall
scr Kate Lanier
with Mariah Carey, Max Beesley, Ann Magnuson, Terrence Howard, Da Brat, Tia Texada, Eric Benet, Valarie Pettiford, Dorian Harewood, Grant Nickalls, Padma Lakshmi, Don Ackerman
release US 21.Sep.01; UK 23.Nov.01
01/US 1h44

1 out of 5 stars
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a strength to survive This vaguely biographical film is about a young singer's rise from a difficult childhood to fame and fortune, starring Carey as a version of herself. It's so badly botched that it's entertaining ... for all the wrong reasons. Poor little Billie Frank--raised in lowlife nightclubs by her soul-singing mother (Pettiford), then abandoned to an orphanage with her little kitten. Years later as a young adult (Carey) she's discovered by gritty New York DJ Dice (Beesley) and propelled to glittery stardom. But the road to fame and fortune isn't an easy one, as she's haunted by memories of her mother, Dice's controlling ways, record company demands, her loyal friends (Da Brat and Texada) and outfits so skimpy that she can barely move in them.

So where to begin? Mariah is beautiful and she has a truly stunning voice. Whether she's up to the dramatic demands of this film are never clear, because everyone is directed to disastrous performances. She's so over made-up and under-dressed that she never has a chance. And each of her powerful scenes is undermined by directorial clunkiness far beyond anything you can imagine. You can't help but howl at the appalling stupidity of the filmmaking--so you miss any emotion in the scene. Beesley does a bad Marky Mark (when he was Marky Mark) impersonation, complete with wobbly East Coast urban accent, scruffy goatee and chunky jewellery. Magnusson is inane and irrelevant as the pushy image consultant. And so on. Director Hall tries to liven things up with whizzy clips of New York and a crushing song score (that leaves very little of the actual Mariah intact). And the script isn't any help--strained and ludicrously overwrought, nothing works. Carey's real story would have been much stronger--well, in the hands of better filmmakers. Don't wait for the video--you must see this with a cinema full of people trying to suppress their giggles, then ultimately hooting in full-on laughter. Yes it's that bad. And that much fun.
themes, violence cert PG 27.Sep.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall