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TV review: 'Liz & Dick' with Lilo is laughable

SHOW PATROL

November 22, 2012|By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol | RedEye

It's never smart to fill a bad movie with lines that can be turned on the actors, or the production itself.

"I'm bored," says Lindsay Lohan, as screen legend Elizabeth Taylor in "Liz & Dick" (8 p.m. Nov. 25, Lifetime; 1 star out of 4). "I'm soo bored."

So was I.

"I want more," she says in another scene, to which I thought, simultaneously, that I wanted less of this cheesy, off-putting movie but more of the real story behind the volatile romance between Taylor and Richard Burton.

In yet another unintentionally funny scene Lohan--I mean La Liz--exclaims, "I'm a joke!" I'll let anyone guess what I thought after hearing that line.

Taylor and Burton deserve better than this. Viewers deserve better, too. (Although an argument could be made for this becoming everyone's go-to movie for a drinking game.)

Lohan, all pouty lips and puffy cheeks, doesn't capture Taylor's well-known bawdy humor and sexual appetites. She's just a jealous, selfish child. Lohan doesn't even appear to be trying to get Taylor right; her raspy California voice is not even close to Taylor's high-pitched, slightly British accent.

New Zealand actor Grant Bowler fares better as Burton. Although he still has to call Liz things like Ms. Bossy Boots and Mrs. Pudgy Digits, he conveys the pain and envy behind Burton's fiery attitude toward his love.

"Liz & Dick" begins on the set of "Cleopatra," as did Taylor's tumultuous relationship with Burton. It attempts to tell their story from that initial adulterous affair, suicide attempts, courting and loathing of the paparazzi, their two marriages through to its collapse, and the connection they maintained until Burton's death in 1984. (Taylor died in 2011.)

The structure of Christopher Monger's ("Temple Grandin") screenplay fails at every turn. Liz and Dick, dressed in all black and sitting in director's chairs in a dark room, tell rather than show how things went wrong in the 12 years they were together. It's as if they're guests on some heavenly version of "Inside the Actor's Studio." (Or maybe it was filmed in hell? Either way, they're apparently dead but talking to us.)

It's shocking how boring this film about two lives lived with such passion turned out. In the early going, we're inundated with many a bottle-throwing, booze-soaked brawls and rather chaste love scenes. Then, it seems, executive producer Larry A. Thompson and director Lloyd Kramer realized they were running out of time, so they cram marriage No. 2 into the final five minutes along with Lohan's laughable appearance as a mid-'80s, big-haired Taylor.

It's obvious Thompson wanted Lohan as his Liz to draw parallels between the two actresses: They were both child stars who flirted with the paparazzi, addiction and tabloid drama.

But Lohan isn't a star of Taylor's caliber, and "Liz & Dick" is, simply, a joke.


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