The People vs. Larry Flynt

Bomb Rating: 

It's dangerous and stupid to make a film about somebody who isn't dead. Larry Flynt is still very much alive and even appears as a judge, presiding over a trial when the fictional Larry (Woody Harrelson) goes to court for the first time.

Unfortunately, because Larry is still alive, kicking, and publishing lots of smutty magazines including his famous Hustler, director Milos ("Amadeus") Forman is hesitant to ask complex questions that characterize Larry as anything other than a spunky sleazemonger. For instance, when you see Larry as the judge, a question comes to mind: Did he sleep with all those women his reputation suggests, or did he eat them? Forman isn't man enough to explore this possibility.

Thus, Forman seems committed to the theme of Flynt as First Amendment activist, disregarding the connection between Flynt's devotion to the First Amendment and his devotion to his bank account. Though Harrelson's portrayal of Flynt is certainly a step up from "Cheers," I hardly think that stuffing some gauze in your mouth and saying "Howdy, Mr. Peterson" in a funny voice qualifies you for a Golden Globe nomination -- then again, maybe it does.

Equally astounding is Courtney Love as Althea, who becomes a drug addict. What a stretch. Maybe Love will stretch herself a bit further in her next role and play a white-trash rock singer. The role also requires Love to be nude a lot -- prompting critics to enthusiastically hail her "seriousness." How sad. "The People vs. Larry Flynt" isn't only a film about poor taste, but a reflection of our own.

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