In my opinion, it was apparent early on that Mariah Carey was eventually going to become an actress. A terrific singer who has strong presence, she eventually started discussing a desire to move to the big screen. Yet, "Glitter" has had nothing but a troubled road to the box office. Starting out with bad buzz and unintentional laughter greeting the trailer, Carey recently underwent an emotional breakdown which lead to her hospitalization. After watching "Glitter" with an audience of 5 other paying customers in a theater that seated 500, I have to say that I hope Carey will be able to brace herself for the reaction to the picture. The other 4 or so members of the audience found enough unintentional laughs in the picture to make it sound as if there were 5 times as many people sitting in the theater. Unfortunately, I didn't even find unintentional laughs or any other sort of entertainment in "Glitter".
"Glitter" is the kind of film that can simply end a career; fortunately for Carey, I don't think enough people will even see the picture to bring the bad buzz on the film to such a level. Those who actually do see the picture will see an example of a picture that should have never been approved in the first place and certainly shouldn't have been released in this form. Carey plays Billie Frank, an aspiring young singer who becomes separated from her mother after a terrible accident. The two say their goodbyes and Billie is sent off to an orphanage. Fast forward to 1983 and Billie and her friends are club kids who are hanging out when they're discovered by a record producer.
A famed local DJ named Dice (Max Beesley) finds out that it's Billie's voice on the record of a popular singer and convinces her that she's got to come out from behind others and show off her incredible voice. Making a deal with the producer, Dice takes over and the two find themselves on a slow climb towards success. As mediocre as it was, the first 25 minutes or so of "Glitter" are actually slightly watchable, as we see Billie climb the ladder. At about 30 minutes into the picture, "Glitter" hits the wall and becomes something that's simply horrid and painfully boring. Dice isn't the great guy that Billie thought he was and turns into a real jerk, especially in one sequence where he starts insulting her friends.
The film stumbles awkwardly through a checklist of rags-to-riches stardom cliches, which are paired with a truly awful screenplay by Kate Lanier. I have a bad feeling that Carey may have thought this was a good idea and her handlers were too concerned about keeping her pleased to tell her otherwise. The film seemed like it was going towards a decent look inside the music industry, but the second it turns into a soap opera romance about the off-and-on relationship between the two, it turns from bad to much, much worse. There's one hilarioous sequence where, after the two have broken up, they both sit down in different places and start to write the same song. At this point, a teenage girl sitting with a couple friends a few rows back yelled, "they've got ESP!" That line was more entertaining than anything that played on-screen. Suddenly, Billie is hugely famous, but we hardly hear anything about the rise there. Suddenly, one character throws out a line about how she's been number one on the charts for weeks. Huh?
It doesn't help that "Glitter" is poorly directed by sometime actor Vondie Curtis-Hall. The director uses absurd slo-mo shots and other techniques - this simply becomes irritating, as does the near-constant cutaways to city shots. Again, Carey may have acting talent, but I certainly couldn't tell from watching "Glitter", which doesn't even really ask anything more of her than to smile pretty, show off major cleavage (something she already does in videos) and bat her eyelashes. The supporting performances are decent, especially rapper Da Brat as one of Billie's friends. Otherwise, there's really no one else involved that's worth mentioning, with the exception of Ann Magnuson, who provides a shrilly cartoony performance as Billie's publicist. The film can't even really get the look of the period right.
It seems as if Carey is reportedly having some sort of feud with fellow actor/singer Jennifer Lopez. As much as I think Carey has potential, it must be said that Lopez has demonstrated stronger acting ability; Lopez's first role in Soderberg's "Out Of Sight" was electric and although the roles that followed haven't always been entirely remarkable, Lopez definitely has proved herself in both drama and comedy. Carey, on the other hand, would have definitely been well-advised to try something that's a bit more ambitious than "Glitter" as her first starring role. It's a movie that really should have gone straight-to-video.