I have often felt that they just don't make bad movies the way they used to. Glitter is an outstanding exception to this rule. So stuffed with pure ridiculousness, showbiz movie clichés and horrid acting, it provides pure bad movie satisfaction!
Mariah assuages the complex and multi-layered role of Billie Frank, ripped from the maternal breast at the tender age of 13 or such and thrown in an orphanage, where she meets her cru of multi-ethnic buddies. They all move to NYC together afterward, where Billie quickly becomes a superstar by sleeping with her producer. He soon becomes a drag, but if you've seen any incarnation of A Star is Born, you'll know that people who discover a star and then end up holding the star back by expecting loyalty and fidelity cannot be long for this world. It's too bad that this was directed at 13-year-old girls, because that precludes any serious drug abuse sequences, which are always delightful. Luckily Mariah has an immortal cat to keep her company through the ups and downs of fame. I would seriously watch a whole movie about Whisper the Immortal Cat. He could totally fight crime or some shit.
Anyway, let's discuss this movie as it appears on screen: as a disparate bunch of seemingly-unrelated fragments:
> The whole opening where little Mariah sings, her mother burns the house down, and Mariah goes into the orphanage is wonderful for its pure obliviousness to its own clichés.
> The mother just completes a successful set, and the next thing we know she's fired!
> Note that the mother is asleep with a lit cigarette, which Mariah takes out of her hand. Then she wakes up just long enough to light another cigarette, and promptly falls asleep again.
> Wow, what a clean and nice orphanage, full of sweet, freshly-scrubbed, wholesome young girls! The orphanage in Annie, or of course, any orphanage in the whole world, isn't that nice! AND they let you keep a pet!
> Keep an eye on the ageless cat, Whisper, as he'll make a notable appearance later.
> Note that Mariah's Hispanic friend does not have an accent while in the orphanage. That means she DEVELOPED a Chicano accent spontaneously, without being around any Hispanic people! Pretty amazing!
> The woman who plays Mariah's Hispanic friend, Tia Texada, delivered a very catty, anti-Mariah interview I read a while later, in which she said that when she wanted to include some of her own dancing work in the film, Mariah refused, saying "Uh, is this movie about YOU? No, it's about ME."
> Mariah makes DEFT use of her three facial expressions, but gets the most mileage out of the faux-bashful "awww gee, I'm not really THAT utterly brilliant... am I?" disingenuous expression she has for two-thirds of the entire film. Of course, that much of the film is made up of people telling her how utterly brilliant she is.
> I listened to 30 minutes of the director commentary before I got too bored. He is a man, despite being named "Vondie," and says the studio wanted him for the "gritty edge" he would bring to the film [apparently "gritty edge" means "sped-up cut shots" and "superfluous slow-motion"]. He also describes Mariah's audition tape as "a great piece of film."
> One of my favorite showbiz clichés occurs soon after Mariah goes into the nightclub [shot in the former Limelight, here in NYC] and gives the DJ her demo, which the DJ promptly plays for the nightclub without bothering to listen to first. The favorite cliché: how the DJ listens to approximately 2 seconds, then starts nodding her head like "Awww YEAH, this my SHIT!!" Of course, the entire club just eats it up.
> Can someone please advise the producer Dice to wear a shirt more regularly? Or at least to formal events?
> After an hour, it's time for some CONFLICT! She disses her multi-ethnic but decidedly non-fabulous friends! Her Mommy issues suddenly come roaring back! Her sick producer is being shunted aside on her sprint to fame!
> She meets sex addict Eric Benet. This is the guy who was married to Halle Berry, but it didn't work out, because she's NOT a sex addict. It's so sad, but so true, that sex-addiction-discordant relationships rarely work.
> Sex addict Eric Benet on his own track: "This is fresh!"
> Later, after Mariah is walking out on her abusive boyfriend, she just reaches out of frame and picks up the CAT, who has not been seen in the movie for the past hour, and apparently has not aged at all in 20 years! It's Whisper, the Immortal Cat! This cat will be alive eons after Mariah has passed to dust! He will survive the nuclear apocalypse--with Tina Turner! This truly is among the high points of the film. Whisper totally needs to be a new fuckin' superhero.
> It is astonishing how Mariah has studio time, shoots a video, and headlines at Madison Square Garden without ever appearing to release an album or even a single.
> Poor Mariah just really misses her Mommy! I want to see her get hooked on meth, do some Jennifer Connelly shit like out of the end of Requiem for a Dream, and end up in the gutter begging to give blow jobs for $3.37, but I guess we'll have to wait for the Whitney story for that one.
> Terrence Howard, now famous, is on hand!
> Hmm, we have a former boyfriend who the main character owes all of her fame to. But he's like SO last Wednesday, and we have to get rid of him, but we can't have our heroine be unfair or disloyal. I know! What if he was KILLED?
> Moments after learning of her boyfriend's death Mariah takes to the stage to deliver some of her keen insight: "Don't ever take anyone for granted." Thanks sugar, but I have that cereal box, too.
> Mariah sings an abbreviated ballad about how she's grown and changed through all of this, in one of those classic Star-Is-Born "I owe it all to you and now I'm a glamorous superstar but thank God you're dead so I don't have to take care of you and I can just move on," moments.
> This film also features one of my other favorite music-movie clichés, which is the concert that seems to consist entirely of one song.
> For a huge finish, Mariah steps directly off the stage in her huge gown and into a limo, whereupon she drives all night to Maryland [those limo drivers sure are flexible!] to be reunited with her mommy [while still in her grand dress], no longer a junkie and just a good down-home woman.
> We pan up, during the final shot, to the vast expanse of trees and grass. ah yes, a symbolic return to nature. VH1 proudly presents: Divas in the wilderness.
> You are SAFE in planning a party around this achievement in film, as it will NOT disappoint on any count.
One of my great regrets in life is not seeing this on opening night, where there would be a huge crowd who stand united in their wish to degrade and humiliate good Mariah. Instead a saw it a week later, when there were only four other people in the audience.
You MUST see this seminal film.
You fuckin’-A betcha!