Compelling biopics usually have interesting or significant subjects whose lives and deeds are compelling enough to dramatize for an audience. Elizabeth Taylor is certainly an important part of Hollywood's history, but Liz & Dick, which originally aired on the Lifetime network, is almost exclusively about her two marriages to actor Richard Burton. Liz & Dick, with Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler as the squabbling celebrity couple, succeeds at very little but did a great job making me hate its subjects. Burton and Taylor, especially, are painted as shrill and childish, with little to do but prance about town drinking and gossiping. Lohan's acting is a fair shake worse than Bowler's, but it's not like the script does the young actress any favors. If Liz & Dick wasn't going to be good, the filmmakers should have embraced their Lifetime license to be trashy. Instead, Liz & Dick is just an awful bore.
Taylor, best known for her roles in Cleopatra and Giant, at first plays hard to get with the married Burton, but succumbs to his charms while filming Cleopatra. The pair begins a worldly love affair, often starring in the same film, and Burton showers Taylor with lavish gifts like diamonds and a private jet. Liz & Dick paints Taylor as a naÃ¯ve, fussy actress unaccustomed to down time. Taylor struggles to entertain herself and mother her young children while taking a hiatus from film, and Burton retains at least some ties to the wife he left for Taylor.
Liz & Dick is a complete failure for many reasons, chief among them is that I couldn't care less about the happiness, tribulations and relationship of Taylor and Burton as portrayed in the film. Perhaps the Hollywood drama queen and her lover were nice people, or perhaps not. They're miserable, annoying and entitled in Liz & Dick, which goes a long way to sully Taylor's acting resume. Lohan is fairly dreadful, too. I'm not going to kick a dead horse; I think Lohan could be a decent actress if she gets her personal life under control. Lohan seems very uncomfortable throughout much of Liz & Dick, as if she is reading from cue cards. This makes her performance distracting, though there a few moments when her acting "clicks." One, not surprisingly, is a scene where Taylor awaits a day's filming while battling a nasty hangover.
Bowler is a bit better in his role, though there is absolutely no chemistry between he and Lohan. The film is bookended with strange, post-mortem interviews with Liz and Dick in which they comment about the goings-on portrayed in the film. Taylor admits she was a handful at times in what is probably the understatement of the decade. I suspect neither Taylor nor Burton would be pleased at how they are portrayed in the film. Liz & Dick is incredibly stupid, incredibly shallow, and incredibly boring tripe. Lifetime movies aren't exactly the cream of the crop, but Liz & Dick is among the worst I have had the displeasure of watching.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is fine if unremarkable. Detail is decent throughout, and it's easy to spot the fake outdoor landscapes. Colors and skin tones are good, though black levels are fairly weak. Compression noise is often quite noticeable, and I spotted some shimmering on buildings and in trees.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is also serviceable, though there is little surround action in this dialogue-heavy film. Dialogue is clear and balanced amid the score and light effects, which only occasionally waft to the rear speakers. An English 2.0 stereo mix is also included, as are English SDH subtitles.
The disc includes Interviews (21:25) with Lohan, Bowler and some of the filmmakers.
I suspect Liz & Dick is not the comeback Lindsay Lohan wanted or needed. This grating biopic makes Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton seem like the most annoying couple in history. Dull, poorly scripted and acted, Liz & Dick is as bad as it gets. Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.