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Stardom

Starring Jessica Paré, Dan Aykroyd, Charles Berling, Robert Lepage, Camilla Rutherford with Thomas Gibson and Frank Langella,
Screenplay by Denys Arcand and J. Jacob Potashnik
Directed by Denys Arcand
no website

IN SHORT: Fuin. [Rated R for language and sexual content. 102 minutes]

When we started writing this review, we remembered the tagline in a newspaper ad as reading "Stardom is a four letter word." (It was actually "fame is..." but we were on a creative roll so we set out trying to figure out an appropriate four letter, non-expletive to fit the bill. "Uproarious", "funny", "gutbusting" all failed the test as did "tedious", "tiresome" and "unending". All adjectives being appropriate, we have coined the acronym "FUIN"

That means "Funny until it's not," which is about the first sixty minutes of Denys Arcand's Stardom. Why Stardom stops being fun has to do with the format of the mockumentary which requires a bit of background explanation, since the film doesn't set out to be a mockumentary in the vein of Spinal Tap or Best in Show.

In the Canadian town of Cornwall, Ontario is a women's hockey team with some very fine looking young ladies on it. Among them is Tina Menzhal (Jessica Paré), daughter of a pro player who skipped out on his wife and two daughters seven years earlier. A local sports photographer snaps a photo. A local modeling agency sees some potential and makes a call to professional photographer Philippe Gascon (Charles Berling). Gascon takes some photos and ships the girl off to Paris, where he had once staged a successful fashion show, to earn her chops. Tina starves for two months until a terrorist bomb puts her on the street. With only a new best buddy, and fellow model, Toni (Camilla Rutherford) to show for her time, Tina flies back to Canada. There she is acclaimed as the next big thing by some press dweeb at the community television station -- she had, after all, "been to Paris" -- and lands a television commercial whose director Bruce Taylor (Robert Lepage) decides to document her certain rise to fame. His instincts are correct and a ravenous media machine kicks a career into super mega model overdrive.

Tina's rise is as meteoric as it is unwarranted, but that's besides the point. Stardom, in best mockumentary style, uses "Taylor's" camera to put its focus on all the bozos trying to get their piece of the pie. The television reporters who love to hear themselves talk. The powerful fashion designers who are as rude as they are crude. The minor agents and the power players and all the hidden financial deals. The soon to be junkie rock stars models love to hang with. The middle aged guys so sedate in their 20 year marriages that any glance from a sweet young thing is enough to send 'em off the cliff. In this case, it's the restaurateur who brought sushi to Canada, Barry Levine (Dan Aykroyd) and the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, Blaine de Castillon (Frank Langella). All the while the camera keeps rolling; thus full mockumentary mode which shreds media represented by entertainment reporters for ET (called "Entertainment Daily") and MTv ("zTV"), among the best known of the bunch.

As the straw caught in the proverbial hurricane, Tina's life is a whirlwind. Once the focus locks down on the straw, the film stretches out interminably. Too much time is spent on the crash and burn of the friends and lovers left behind. While some of the ideas are good for a one line gag, too often the scenes run on and on and on like the Energizer bunny. This is Paré's first major starring role and she handles it well. Actually she handles it beautifully while most of the role calls for reaction and looking pretty. She's more than fine when the focus truly shifts and dialog delivery becomes important. It is the shift and the inability to discard excess characters, as easily as Tina has discarded them from her life, that shoots Stardom down, not the performances.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Stardom, he would have paid...

$3.00

Wait and Rent. Stardom's first hour is very funny and well worth watching if you're into the genre specified above.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.