A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Liz & Dick is a biopic about two characters who weren't necessarily nice people: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who were each married to other people when they got together. They take pleasure in cheating and seem to care little about those they hurt, including spouses and children. Both are massive drinkers and smokers and are seldom seen without a cigarette onscreen. Taylor is also a pill popper, often seen taking "medication" and once swallowing a bottle of pills and chasing it with vodka in a suicide attempt. There is emotional cruelty galore as the pair insult each other constantly and fight violently, with screams and shoves. No real nudity, but Burton and Taylor are frequently shown in bed with implied nakedness. Both Burton and Taylor end up rather unhappily, which parents may want to use as an object lesson: See what happens when you drink, cheat, and brawl? Teens might be attracted to the movie thanks to Lindsay Lohan's role.
What's the story?
Swathed in dark wigs and emoting behind violet-colored contact lenses, tabloid staple Lindsay Lohan is Elizabeth Taylor in Liz & Dick, the tale of the towering love affair that led Taylor and Richard Burton (Grant Bowler) to fling aside their spouses and families for each other. Though Burton and Taylor threw away their former lives to be together, neither were happy in the relationship, with drink, drugs, affairs, and professional jealousy scotching their tempestuous love affair. Liz & Dick follows their ups and downs, from their first meeting on the set of Cleopatra, through the fiery shooting of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and on through their eventual divorces (both of them), following the actors' stories through Burton's death and Taylor's downfall.
Is it any good?
Campy and overwrought, Liz & Dick is not great art, but it's great fun. Lohan does not disappear inside her character so much as resemble her: Here was a woman (Taylor) who was married eight times (twice to Burton), who saw the world through a haze of vodka and pills, who was known worldwide for her high-handed actions. Lindsay can play that, and does, although her Valley Girl speech sounds kinda odd coming from a face made up to look like a vintage movie star.
Bowler is more natural as Burton and we can buy the heat between the couple, both passion and jealousy as Burton watches Taylor's career surpass his. Those who are old enough to remember the tabloid headlines about Taylor's antics will get a pleasant "and that's the rest of the story" vibe from the movie; younger folks probably won't get what the fuss was all about. But this surely is a pleasant way to spend an evening, in the company of pretty people in gorgeous vintage fashions, behaving badly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the Lifetime channel chose a tabloid-staple actress to portray a woman often in the gossip columns in her lifetime. Is Lifetime hoping to draw a parallel between these two women, or hoping viewers will? How do the antics of Lindsay Lohan compare with those of the real-life Taylor?
Is the viewer supposed to like and sympathize with Taylor and Burton? Or not? What clues in the way the leads are portrayed lead you to that conclusion?
Opulent settings play a big part in Liz & Dick. Yet the people in these settings often do not act with elegance and taste. Do you suppose the filmmakers were trying to contrast the plush settings with the tacky behavior? Were Liz Taylor and Richard Burton from wealthy backgrounds? What makes you answer this way?
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