Undivine Ms M
C. CRADDOCK | Bakersfield | 09/21/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The answer is, no, she is not great. Not by a long shot. This movie doesn't work on any level. Bette Midler and Nathan Lane are two of the most over-the-top scenery chewers to ever hit the silver screen. In the right vehicle they would both be fabulous, but this wasn't it. Here the tone and mood are all wrong.
It is the story of trashy best selling novelist Jacqueline Susann (Bette Midler) and her press agent/husband Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane). He seems to be the one asking 'Isn't She Great,' but he never seems to hear that people are saying 'no she is not.' In spite or because of her lack of literary talent, she becomes a huge success. Cancer and an autistic child were personal burdens she had to bear. Why then is the tone so slap stick? It doesn't work. It is like Springtime for Hitler, but without the laughs. At one point Truman Capote is shown on TV saying Jacqueline Susann's novels aren't writing, they are just typing (he really said it about Jack Kerouac, but it would be better applied to Susann). Capote was a great writer, in spite of his flaws, and the movie about him won an Oscar for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Capote was a much better movie than Isn't She Great.
I thought the movie might be good, or else it would be so bad that it would be entertaining, like something Joe Eszterhas would do. It was not bad enough to be entertaining, it was just apalling watching Midler and Lane mugging, thinking they were doing so fantastic. The tagline is talent isn't everything. Unfortunately, lack of talent IS everything when it comes to Isn't She Great (what, no question mark?).
The Rose (1979) .... Bette Midler was nominated for an Oscar for playing Mary Rose Foster
For the Boys (1991) .... Bette got another nomination for playing Dixie Leonard, but Martha Raye claimed it was a rip off of her life story, and threatened to sue.
The Birdcage (1996) .... Nathan Lane was a scream as Albert Goldman
To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (1995) .... Stockard Channing was Carol Ann
Six Degrees of Separation (1993) .... Oscar nomination for Stockard's portrayal of Louisa ('Ouisa') Kittredge
Nixon - Collector's Edition (1995) .... David Hyde Pierce was John Dean
JFK - Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1991) .... Jerry Johnson was played by John Larroquette (credited on Director's Cut)
Richie Rich (1994) .... John Larroquette portrayed Lawrence Van Dough
Charlie's Angels - Full Throttle (Widescreen Unrated Special Edition) (2003) .... Cleese was Mr. Munday
A Fish Called Wanda (1988) .... John Cleese played Archie Leach, and also got an Oscar nomination for the script.