Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LIZ AND DICK: the camp-fest that wasn't.


Robert Fure's column (linked to above) makes this wise observation regarding Lifetime's LIZ AND DICK:
"Movies like this serve a minor purpose and are often correctly judged on their merits compared to other like films. You don’t compare a high school baseball pitcher to someone in the pros; and you don’t compare a Lifetime movie to something opening on 2000 screens this weekend."

Larry Thompson, one of the producers of LIZ AND DICK, once made a TV-movie in the early 90s about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (I was an extra on the film, cast as a bellboy).  It starred a pre-GENERAL HOSPITAL Maurice Benard as Desi and a pre-TITANIC Frances Fisher as Lucy; reputable old-fashioned director Charles Jarrott (ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS) was at the helm.  From what I remember of LUCY AND DESI, it was a docudrama meant to both get ratings and be taken seriously by its intended middle-of-the-road audience.

LIZ AND DICK seems to have been made for the same reasons.  And the casting of Lindsay Lohan, snark aside, was an acknowledgement that she still has some degree of bankability--trainwreck personal life and poor career choices (remembering all the hooting over the film I KNOW WHO KILLED ME a few years ago) aside.

At least the actor playing Richard Burton (though he looked more like Bryan Brown) tried to evoke Burton vocally, as well as his tendencies towards both well-read intellect and self-pity.

But Lindsay Lohan didn't even bother with acting the role of Elizabeth Taylor--causing some of the film's few "camp" moments to come from Lohan 's get-it-over-with line readings giving the false impression she had never acted before in her life.

Yes, LIZ AND DICK is a Lifetime movie that probably peaked during the high-style opening credits sequence set to Dean Martin's Nelson Riddle-arranged recording of "Just In Time."

And, for the remainder of its running time, the film isn't delectable camp or unintended hilarity.  It's just a made-for-TV film that wants to be sincere about celebrity, romance and material excess and, instead, tastes like flat nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice.

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