Paramount's June '06 Releases
Mommie Dearest (June 23/06)
It's not at all surprising that Mommie Dearest has been transformed into a cult classic in the years since its 1981 theatrical release, given the film's unmistakably campy vibe and star Faye Dunaway's hilariously over-the-top performance. The movie - based on Christina Crawford's autobiography - details the tempestuous relationship between Crawford and her movie-star mother, Joan Crawford (Dunaway). Sporting a glacial pace and filmed without an ounce of style, Mommie Dearest relies almost entirely on Dunaway's histrionics to propel the story forward - resulting in a movie that's good for a few unintentional laughs but little else. And while there are some interesting tidbits here and there - most revolving around Joan's desperate attempts to hold onto her rapidly deteriorating fame - the film's emphasis generally remains on the more salacious elements of its subjects' lives. There is, consequently, absolutely no authenticity to any of this; the screenplay (credited to four writers) has all the depth of a made-for-Lifetime production, as evidenced by the ceaseless use of melodramatic cliches and trashy plot developments (one can't help but laugh at the sequence in which Joan gets so mad at Christina she literally attempts to strangle her). As for Dunaway, her shrill, thoroughly unpleasant performance is obviously the key reason behind the movie's newfound success - but really, this is the sort of work one expects out of a hammy soap actor.