Pamela: A Love Story
Language, nudity, abuse in compelling celebrity docu.
Pamela: A Love Story
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pamela: A Love Story is a documentary about 1990s sex symbol Pamela Anderson, in which she addresses her marriage to abusive rocker Tommy Lee, a sex tape of them that was famously stolen and leaked on the internet, her own childhood traumas and abuse, and how posing naked for Playboy empowered her and launched her career. The film has nudity, language (including sexual), a description of past abuse (including sexual abuse and rape), and drugs like ecstasy and alcohol. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "whore," "suck," "hell," "a--hole," "p---y," "penis," and "vagina."
Great for Pamela.
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Lots of nudity, but good for older kids maybe, and adults
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What's the Story?
PAMELA: A LOVE STORY gives Pamela Anderson a chance to tell her story in her own words. A former Playboy model and international celebrity, thanks to her starring role on the hit 1990s TV series Baywatch, Anderson opens the doors to her home in British Columbia and shares home videos and excerpts from her lifelong journals. Some events in her life are well-known, and Anderson offers commentary on her lived experiences of these. Other events might be revelations, even to Anderson fans. Her mother and two sons are also interviewed briefly, and archive footage constructs a depiction of her rise to fame, stepping away from her career when her kids were little, and more recent activities on Broadway and as a spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Is It Any Good?
You expect most biographical documentaries to fawn over their subjects, but the star here also reveals some difficult and even unflattering pieces of her past, and the result is an engaging film. A sex symbol of the 1990s, model-actress Pamela Anderson appears makeup-free in her 50s and wearing shapeless gowns for much of Pamela: A Love Story. The appearance is a far cry from her carefully-crafted image of the past, and it seems to suggest that viewers should expect authenticity from her in these taped interviews. Surely there's a lot left unsaid (for example, on drug use, money issues, the ways Anderson exploited her own image), but Anderson does delve into some very painful experiences from her childhood and offers what seem like honest accounts of her many failed marriages.
Her breakup with her first husband Tommy Lee, a relationship she still admits she's not entirely over, is discussed in detail, and her now-grown sons talk about their parents. (Son Brandon co-produced this film.) The film makes heavy use of past home videos Anderson has collected, as well as dozens of journals she wrote in and saved. Like so many in the '90s, she says they videotaped everything. Of course, the sex tape she and Lee became famous for (and the subject of the recent Hulu show Pam and Tommy) is also addressed at length. The home videos remind (or introduce) viewers to the global phenomenon she was in her Playboy and Baywatch days, as well as the surprising way she was "discovered" and the relative risks she took in getting her start. In the end, Anderson reinvents herself again, taking a physically demanding role in a Broadway revamp of Chicago and earning surprisingly positive reviews.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the various kinds of materials that go into documentaries like Pamela: A Love Story, including interviews, archival footage, published material, and more. What stood out to you as most important in telling Anderson's story?
What did you know of Anderson before watching this film? Do you think you need to have some prior information to appreciate the documentary? Why or why not?
Anderson talks about traumatic experiences in her childhood that she couldn't share with anyone. Who would you talk to if something bad happened to you or a friend? Why is it important for kids to have trustworthy adults in their lives?
The tape that was stolen from Anderson and Lee and shared with the world was released in the early days of worldwide use of the internet. How have things changed since then?
- On DVD or streaming: January 31, 2023
- Cast: Pamela Anderson
- Director: Ryan White
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: History
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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