Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA/United Kingdom/Germany/Japan, 2000. British Broadcasting Corporation, Lobell/Bergman Productions, Marubeni, Mel’s Cite du Cinema, Mutual Film Company, Tele München Fernseh Produktionsgesellschaft, Toho Company, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Paul Rudnick, based on the article Wasn’t She Great by Michael Korda. Cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Produced by Mike Lobell. Music by Burt Bacharach. Production Design by Stuart Wurtzel. Costume Design by Julie Weiss. Film Editing by Barry Malkin.
Well, yes she certainly is great, but her film bites the big one. How is it possible that one of the worst films to come out of Hollywood in the new millennium would feature the combined acting talents of Bette Midler, Stockard Channing and Nathan Lane? Not to mention it also has Paul Rudnick (In and Out, Addams Family Values, Jeffrey) as scriptwriter? Director Andrew Bergman shows as little flair for riding the fine line between reality and parody here as he did when he filmed Striptease (which now looks like a much better film in comparison), and the work done by the aforementioned cast and crew suffers for it. Unable to inject a little life into the proceedings it would actually achieve the goals Rudnick had set for himself except the film has no momentum. Susann wrote about sex-addicted starlets and drug-addicted moguls, achieving fame as a writer after her husband encourages her to escape her depression through her writing; giving her a few witty lines laced with profanity to show off her spirit while countering it with serious scenes about the cancer that eventually killed her is not quite as dynamics as it should, nor is her unhappiness over having an autistic child or, most the tragic, the humour that could come from writing Susann and Channing’s Flo as a carbon copy of Auntie Mame and Vera Charles. As for the Divine Miss M, her acting practically reaches the uncharted territories it aims for, but the dismal surroundings keep getting in her way. A few sideline scenes with David Hyde Pierce and John Cleese as Susann’s editor and publisher are further wastes of dedicated actors; the best thing I can say about the whole production is Julie Weiss’ costume designs, which are a delight and discovery every single time one of the leading ladies enters the room in preparation for a night out on the town. A real turkey.