I may be the last person on Earth to feel this way, but I still like Lindsay Lohan. At least, I’m still rooting for her. I mean — how can we expect her to be anything but exactly what she is, given her upbringing? Her parents aren’t a joke to me, they’re sort of … sadly, awful. I’ve always wanted to give her my own special intervention, one where she detoxed all the drugs out of her system, was forced to eat my cooking, sleep eight hours a night, help me fold laundry while we have long talks about life, go to AA meetings with my dad, and spend a lot of time walking very energetic Labradors. I really think she can be saved. Or maybe I’ve just seen The Parent Trap too many times.
But the truth is, the girl is a mess. The things that are written about her on sites like Jezebel, Celebitchy, and my favorite, CDaN, as well as every reputable news source everywhere, tell a story of someone who is so strung out and so far gone in every possible way, that it’s a small miracle this movie was ever finished. The producers of the movie have even been giving interviews discussing that she was such a train-wreck that they had to go Lloyds of London to get special incarceration insurance in case she ended up in the clink before the end of filming.
You should know this about me before we discuss the movie: I LOVE THINGS THAT ARE CRAPPY. I love all things that normal people think are cheesy or annoying, and I love them without irony. The Tori Spelling classic made for a TV movie Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? OH HELL YES. The new Dallas? More of that, please. You know who I adore? Tom Jones. Seriously.
All this preamble is to say that I am someone who is predisposed to love this movie. And I really don’t. It’s not juicy and fun, though the subject matter is rife with both characteristics. It’s just sort of there, even though everyone is clearly trying very hard. And that’s what makes it worse — that despite everyone’s best efforts, it’s still not good. It’s not really campy, because the film takes itself too seriously. And who can possibly take it seriously?
My girl Lindsay alternately looks completely stunning, and sort of bloated and really hungover. I know there’s no surprise there, given some of her lifestyle choices and maybe that’s supposed to mirror Taylor’s lifestyle? But it’s weird and off-putting. And the difference in her appearance, from scene to scene, is striking.
There is supposed to be this intense chemistry between Lindsay and the dude playing Richard Burton (Grant Bowler). It’s not so much chemistry as there is poor Grant Bowler trying to be a real actor or, at least, a real impersonator. There are moments when you can literally see him reach for the bottle of booze thinking, “I’ve been busting my ass and sacrificing everything to be an actor for my entire life and this is my big break, and I probably won’t get another one and GLUG GLUG GLUG.”
And the steamy love scenes? Half of them are narrated by Burton’s poetry and Shakespeare recitations, and they are painful. Imagine watching your parents read “Fifty Shades of Grey” to each other aloud, lolling around naked in bed. ::shudders::
But I wondered if it was just me, so I called my grandmother in Trenton, NJ, who was watching the movie with her best friend. I asked her what she thought and she totally nailed it:
“It’s pretty good. It’s true to her life. Elizabeth Taylor, she drank a lot. I like the girl who’s playing her, she’s doing her best, but I mean — it’s not like she’s actually Liz Taylor because there was only one. And the man who’s playing her husband? He’s good, too. He’s not a man like Richard Burton was a man, but he has a voice. That was the thing about Burton, Jul. His voice. And this man playing him has a really good voice. But the girl playing Elizabeth Taylor, her voice is teh-ruh-bul. Elizabeth Taylor always spoke soft-like. Like a girl, her whole life. This girl talks like she smokes too much, and she’s from Rhode Island. Now I’m going to turn it off and watch the Boardwalk Empire. Because that’s a good show.”
I’m not sure what that part about Rhode Island means, but the rest is right on.