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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.12%
Worth A Look: 2.04%
Average: 10.2%
Pretty Bad: 22.45%
Total Crap59.18%

5 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Isn't She Great?
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Attention gay men: Bette Midler AND Nathan Lane are in this movie!"
1 stars

"Isn't she great?" is what talent agent Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane) keeps saying about his client/wife Jacqueline Susann (Bette Midler), whenever she does something allegedly funny or outrageous. "Isn't she great?" he'll say, the ensuing "Eh? Eh?" implied rather than spoken.

And the answer? No. No, she's not. She's not great. "Great" is a quality wholly unassociated with Jacqueline Susann. It's also not a word you'd use to describe the movie. "Unfunny" and "tiresome" spring more readily to mind, as do "unnecessary" and "By the gods, who made me watch this crap?"

"Isn't She Great" takes place in the '60s (the movie doesn't give us specific years, just like it doesn't bother to flesh out its characters), telling the real-life story of Susann, who wanted nothing more than to be famous, and who got her fame when she wrote "Valley of the Dolls" and other tawdry, poorly written books.

First she fails as an actress, and rightly so, as she is without talent. This does not stop Irving from falling in love with her and thinking he can make her famous, though, and they get married approximately one second after meeting each other. Two seconds later, they have a kid, who is autistic and has to go to a special place for autistic kids. Two seconds after that, Jacqueline has breast cancer. See, all this tragedy, and nothing to show for it! That is, no fame, which is the only thing she actually wants, never mind the family or the happiness.

I don't know if Jacqueline Susann was actually as shallow as she's painted in this film. Indeed, I wonder whether it's possible for any human being to be as shallow as she is in this film. Midler and Lane are a fantastically annoying couple, despite being fairly good actors. Everything is played with so much schmaltz and over-the-top goofiness that you'd think you were watching a skit, rather than a biography.

And the laughs? They ain't there, Hector. Some things could be funny, if they were played without the sledgehammer style of telegraphing the joke, telling the joke, and then reminding you that a joke was just told. Like when Irving prepares to save Jacqueline from drowning herself in Central Park, very carefully removing his shoes and socks and rolling up his pant legs. That's a funny idea -- taking your time to save someone's life -- but it's ruined by the fact that the reason Jacqueline's in the lake in the first place is a stupid, unmotivated one, and the fact that everyone keeps braying their lines like the between-songs banter you hear coming out of fiddle-playing families at the county fair.

The film is so dedicated to its cheesy badness (which goes right down to its sickening musical score) that you'd think it was being done on purpose. Yet someone apparently thought the movie would work as a Jacqueline Susann biography (which I don't recall asking for, by the way), as it is virtually plot-free. Jackie wants to be famous; she writes a book; she gets famous; the end. That's how you tell the story of, say, Gandhi or Genghis Khan -- someone truly important, where just seeing what happened in their lives is interesting enough. Susann's life doesn't happen to have been all that interesting, apparently, and definitely not funny or worth watching a movie about.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/04/03 18:15:45
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User Comments

5/23/10 FranknFurter Great acting...horrific, ham-fisted director. What a shocking juxtaposition! 2 stars
9/30/05 Saturated Phat Midler doesn't seem to be playing someone else, just herself in a black wig. 3 stars
10/28/04 Daveman It's all very superifical, but there's too much charisma in its lead performances to ignore 3 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu Bette and screenwriter waaay over the top; nice to see Nathan try to play hetero 2 stars
9/14/04 twinki 54 best ever 5 stars
8/23/04 Gerald McDaniel I Want my money back!! 3 stars
1/06/02 hum eh, watch it if these nothing else on tv. dont bother to rent the video 3 stars
12/20/01 Andrew Carden Midler, Channing, and Lane Seem To Overpower It's Dull Screenplay. 4 stars
9/18/01 Butterbean OHHHHHHHHHHH MY GAWD!!!! Avoid this film at all cost!! 1 stars
2/14/01 Elvisfan Jed is an escaped mental patient; this movie blows cheese 1 stars
9/28/00 Monday Morning How come Jed gets two votes? I've seen much worse flicks VERY RECENTLY. 3 stars
9/12/00 Jed Ignore the naysayers folks this is cinematic excellence. 5 stars
7/20/00 Jed Ignore the negative treatment this underrated film is great. 5 stars
6/07/00 Alma Marquez The worst I`ve ever seen! 1 stars
2/16/00 Kevin Cho - movie buff Wow - a terrible movie - old people'll love it tho. Horrid movie. great cast 2 stars
2/11/00 Kyle Broflovski "Biography: Jaqueline Susann" was much better 2 stars
1/30/00 jenn "Blu Smrf" ok, i love the actors in this film, but that was about it, horrid film, very weak 1 stars
1/29/00 jody great comics wasted on unfunny movie that sucks as a drama 1 stars
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  28-Jan-2000 (R)
  DVD: 18-Jul-2000

  23-Jun-2000 (15)

  01-Jun-2000 (M)

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