Projections - Movie Reviews

Isn't She Great Isn't She Great

Bette Midler plays a trashy 1960's novelist, Jacqueline Susann, in director Andrew Berman's (Honeymoon in Vegas) new film.

She starts out as a bit actress who will do anything to become famous.  Her adoring husband, publicist Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane), urges her to write a novel about the pill popping starlets she knows so well.

Susann and Mansfield take her novel to every publishing house in New York, only to be turned down because it's too dirty.  A publisher finally takes a chance on the book and an ultra conservative editor played by David Hyde Pierce (nothing like type-casting with Niles Crane himself - Frasier's uptight brother) is given the job of toning it down for public consumption.

The result was Valley of the Dolls, a gossipy, sex-filled romp that became a huge success and put Susann in the spotlight she so craved.

The film focuses on her rise, due largely to her self promotion.  It also deals with Susann's autistic son who was institutionalized as a toddler and the breast cancer that took her life in 1974 as small bumps in the road of her riotous, unconventional life.

Lane doesn't have much to do except praise his wife.  But Stockard Channing as Susann's boozy friend is wonderful and steals every scene she is in.

Susann is foul-mouthed, brassy and larger-than-life; who better to play her than Midler.  A total diva from her teased flip hairdo to her gaudy jewels and outrageous outfits right down to her stiletto heels - Midler is fun to watch.  But the film - much like Ms. Susann's books - is all fluff and little substance.

Rated R for drug references and language.

Isn't She Great

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