Once you've seen Lindsay Lohan's Elizabeth Taylor dressed as the Queen of the Nile and watched her throw a tantrum at and trade barbs with Burton (Grant Bowler), you have received everything the movie has to give.(Photo: Richard McLaren, Lifetime)
(USA TODAY) -- Never mind, Liz: In Liz & Dick (* out of four), Lindsay Lohan only barely calls to mind Lindsay Lohan.
It won't surprise anyone who has seen a picture or a promo for this much-publicized Lifetime movie about the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that Lohan doesn't come close to capturing the essence or magic of a woman who may have been Hollywood's biggest and most beautiful star.
She doesn't remotely resemble Taylor physically - the face is too round for Taylor in Cleopatra, the body too thin for Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - and her performance doesn't resemble any sentient human being emotionally. The surprise is that this comeback turn only barely resembles the promising young star we saw in Lohan's early movies, to the extent that you begin to wonder whether that star ever really existed.
In short, she and her film are too awful to watch - which is probably why many of you will. Just be warned: This is not the kind of entertainingly terrible union of actor and material you get from, say, Zsa Zsa Gabor in Queen of Outer Space or John Wayne in The Conqueror or Hilary Swank in The Core. This is the sad side of awful, as cheesy and dispiriting as its green-screen visits to famous locales.
Written by Temple Grandin's Christopher Monger - and no, I can't explain how the same author could be responsible for both movies - Liz & Dick allows its two main characters to tell their story from the afterlife. Dressed in black and seated on an all-black set, Lohan and co-star Grant Bowler chat their way through the ups and downs of their lives together, either because Monger couldn't be bothered to write proper exposition, or because the stars were too exhausted from trying to breathe life into his script to move.
Give Bowler this: He at least sounds like Burton. Lohan doesn't even try to replicate Taylor's voice, though that's the least of her problems. Taylor was a vibrant, voluptuous, frequently funny and sometimes vulgar woman, pretty much the opposite of the dreary, flat-voiced, petulant child we're seeing on screen.
And so we stumble through the affair, born on the set of Cleopatra, and into the marriage. At which point, having seen Lohan dressed as the Queen of the Nile and watched her throw a tantrum at, and trade barbs with, Burton, you have received everything the movie has to give. There are no improvements to come, and no insights into Liz and Dick to gain.
But then the movie really isn't about Liz & Dick, it's about some hyped-up biographical link between Liz & Lindsay, based on their child-star beginnings and tabloid excursions. The film seems to be aiming for those awkward moments when fact and fiction collide, when Liz eyes a necklace in a jewelry store, or when Dick tells Liz, "You're still a star," and she screams back, "I'm a joke." Yes, you're supposed to think, they're the same.
Well, before you make that connection between Taylor and the 26-year-old Lohan, remember this: At 26, Taylor had starred in 27 films - including National Velvet, Little Women, Father of the Bride, A Place in the Sun, Giant and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - and was a few years away from winning her first Oscar and becoming the highest paid actor in the world. Perhaps Lohan will someday earn the right to be compared to a star like that, but she hasn't yet. Tabloid celebrity isn't enough.
No matter how badly Lifetime wants you to think it is.