Everyone knew "Liz and Dick" was going to be a disaster as soon as it was announced. Two reasons why:
1. It was being made by the Lifetime Network, with a TV-movie budget. 2. It starred Lindsay Lohan.
The pessimism was not unwarranted -- this movie is so bad that I'm surprised Richard Burton hasn't risen from the dead just to throw liquor bottles at the people responsible. I actually hoped that it would be bad in a hilarious, campy way, but instead it's just hideously awkward, cheesy and cheap. As Lohan croaks at one point, "I'M SO BORED!"
The story is narrated by Elizabeth Taylor (Lohan) and Richard Burton (Grant Bowler) from the afterlife. Apparently the heavenly host really want to hear the inside scoop on their relationship. It started during the shooting of "Cleopatra," when Shakespearean actor Burton was unexpectedly cast opposite the scandal-generating superstar Elizabeth Taylor.
Well, despite a rocky start, they began a torrid affair. Their romance destroyed both their marriages (her fourth, his first) and caused an even bigger scandal than her previous homewrecking affair. Over the next twelve years, they lived in a whirl of fights, lovemaking, tragedy, alcoholism and gems -- only to divorce, marry and divorce all over again.
The story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton really needs a HBO miniseries, because it's impossible to cram twenty-plus years of high drama into a 90-minute Lifetime movie. And the rushed pace is only one of the movie's problems -- cheap-looking costumes, awful greenscreen, and a choppy disjointed narrative.
And yes, the writing is eye-rollingly bad ("You do know I'm shagging him senseless, don't you?"), but not in a funny way.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Tepid Lifetime Biography Offers Little Insight Into One Of Hollywood's Greatest (And Most Tempestuous) PairingsMay 1 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
There is something strangely fascinating about the casting of a downward spiraling Lindsay Lohan as screen icon (and two time Oscar winner) Elizabeth Taylor. Lohan is an easy target, to be sure, so I entered into the Lifetime original movie "Liz & Dick" with a reasonably open mind. It's true that this TV movie was lambasted critically, but it also became one of cable's biggest ratings hits of 2012. So, if nothing else, the Lohan factor created a certain curiosity. In that way, Lifetime came out the winner. That said, I might not have expected greatness, depth, or insight out of "Liz & Dick," but I did anticipate a bit of fun. With a history of cheesy and over-the-top movies, I thought this might be a genuine guilty pleasure. Highlighting the tempestuous relationship between Taylor and Richard Burton (played by Grant Bowler, now on SyFy's Defiance), there was lots of room for campy fun. Alas, this never comes to fruition. Too superficial to be truly enlightening and too serious to be much fun, "Liz & Dick" doesn't make much of a mark at all.
The movie is centered, for the most part, around the Cleopatra shoot that put Burton and Taylor together for the first time. Not much in the way of introduction is done for either, so hopefully you know something about each career-wise to put the story into context. Taylor is a diva, Burton a charming boozer. Both are married, but are somehow drawn to one another. Looking at the movie, however, there is nothing to establish this as a grand passion or a legitimate romance. There is a mild opposites attract flirtation and suddenly they are dissolving their marriages. They get together only because they're supposed to, to heck with demonstrating any real drama or relationship building. This by-the-numbers biography is so vague and unenlightening, they try to add content by staging interludes where Taylor and Burton reminisce in spare interview sequences.
If you are familiar with Burton and Taylor, "Liz & Dick" offers absolutely no new insight into the pair. Chances are that if you have a preexisting knowledge of this film era and a love of movies, you are already smarter than the film's screenplay. I feel like this was made as an introduction to those who have zero exposure to the actual back story. But if that's the case, the movie doesn't dig deeply enough into the dynamics of the relationship or provide anything that defines this couple as the Hollywood royalty that they were. As for the performances, the great Theresa Russell is completely wasted as Taylor's mother. Bowler is likable enough, I suppose, but doesn't have much to work with. And Lohan lacks impact as a woman that could captivate the world. Truthfully, though, it is the tepid screenplay that makes "Liz & Dick" so dull. As I said, this didn't have to be great but it should have been fun! KGHarris, 5/13.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HorrifyingMay 21 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
First and foremost, I am offended on behalf of the late, iconic Elizabeth Taylor, whose talent and beauty was lambasted by the selection of Lindsay Lohan to portray her. Liz Taylor was known for her extraordinary acting ability, her glamorous lifestyle, and her beauty. Lohan is known as a mediocre actress, who squandered what little talent she had by her obsurd and childish lifestyle choices.
This could have been a fantastic movie, but the choice of cast was so far off the mark it became laughable. Shame on you Lifetime for demeaning Elizabeth Taylor with this shoddy, pitiful, tabloid-esque portrayal of her life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I NEVER GO AFTER DUMPY WOMENMay 18 2013
THE MOVIE GUY
- Published on Amazon.com
Liz and Dick were the Brad and Angelina of their era...on steroids. The tabloids kept us inform of all the dirt in their life. This was a tabloid view at best.
The film is told in part as a flashback with narration by Liz (Lindsey Lohan) and Dick (Grant Bowler) starting with the filming of "Cleopatra." I thought Lindsey Lohan would be right for the role, although she played it without class and style. Oh, they did get the contacts right. I kept waiting for that moment to tie the film together, to make everything I was watching on the screen suddenly become meaningful. It didn't happen. Grant Bowler had the lines down, but face it...he doesn't command the stage presence of Richard Burton.
The screenplay was horrible. I don't think the film could have been any worse if John Belushi had played both title roles.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not as bad as one might think.April 14 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
As something of a Richard Burton scholar and the author of a play called “Dick & Liz” (believe it or not), I approached this film with trepidation. And yet, like most people who find the story of the Burtons’ love affair so intriguing, I couldn’t wait. It turns out LIZ & DICK isn’t as bad as many people make it out to be.
There is no denying that Lindsay Lohan is inspired casting as Elizabeth Taylor. But no one stands a chance when compared to Elizabeth Taylor in her prime when she was one of the world’s great beauties and arguably the finest film actress of her generation. Were she somehow able to play Ms Taylor without being compared to her–only the distance afforded by time, perhaps, would allow for this– Ms Lohan might’ve come off better.
Ms Lohan plays sex well, though arguably sex is different from being sexy (and Elizabeth Taylor was definitely sexy). For example, about half the film is taken up with kissing and, luscious as Lindsay Lohan is, her sullied reputation conveys a person less in love and more going through the motions of intimacy. She never gets to the heart of Elizabeth Taylor (who certainly equated sex with love) though many of the essential ingredients are on display: vulnerability, childishness, vanity, etc. As a result, the emotional scenes never portray the passion they should. If the premise of LIZ & DICK is to tell one of the world’s great love stories, then we need access to the feelings and passions of the protagonists. Instead of being told Burton and Taylor are in love, we should be shown it. Going through the motions of intimacy, or jealousy, or quarreling isn’t convincing enough.
The production design is the real star of this biopic. The jewellery (essential in a film about Elizabeth Taylor) looks real, the sets are lavish, sometimes opulent, and the clothes, though sometimes ridiculous (oh, the seventies!) are right on the money.
Grant Bowler is very good as Richard Burton, though claims that his voice captures Burton’s timbre are highly exaggerated. Bowler conveys the essence of Burton, however: the insecure coal miner’s son who never got over the death of his mother. His relationship with older brother Ifor is explored reasonably well, though the lifeline Ifor represented to Burton isn’t fully examined. Bowler is a better actor than Lohan, which is problematic, given that Elizabeth Taylor arguably had the stronger personality. If not, she at least had the power, for Burton was constantly afraid she would leave him–which she eventually did. Here it is clear Ms Lohan is the star, but she is simply acting opposite someone who is better than her, which serves to undermine whatever star power she may have.
The real problem with LIZ & DICK though, is the script, which moves from climax to climax with such haste that it becomes comical towards the end. If this great love story is going to have the effect it is supposed to have on an audience then we must be made to feel the tragedy of it all. Trying to cover too much ground makes the story superficial, ultimately. Without the roots of character and psychology firmly planted, we simply can’t respond with the emotional investment tragedy requires from an audience. To truly plumb the depths of tragedy and sorrow and move beyond the shallowness of tabloid fantasy is the greatest challenge in telling this tale. People of privilege who live a life of riches beyond the imaginings of most of us must be seen to fall mightily if we are going to feel sympathy for them and thus deem their suffering tragic. It is sometimes a very fine line between catharsis (a purging of emotion as we respond with fear and pity) and comeuppance.
Make no mistake, this is a tragic tale, but mainly for reasons not explored here. Richard Burton was destroyed by Elizabeth Taylor. LIZ & DICK ignores that truth and tries to persuade us that Elizabeth’s suffering was the real tragedy here. We are told she kept Burton’s letters to her to the end of her life. Sorry, that is sentiment, not tragedy. Burton’s downfall and early death is a tragedy.
LIZ & DICK isn’t as bad as some say, but it could’ve been a lot better. For fans of Liz and Dick, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Just don’t expect, well, Liz and Dick.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
If your only as good as ......May 21 2013
David C. Hearn
- Published on Amazon.com
If the old Hollywood saying "Your only as good as your last picture..." is true; then Miss Lohan is in big trouble. Miss Lohan looks beautiful and captures the look of Elizabeth Taylor when sitting still...but then she moves and speaks and destroys the image compleatly. If you want to see a good movie on the life of Elizabeth Taylor watch Liz: The Elizabeth Tqylor Story starring Sherilyn Fenn. A Mini Serize that delivers in evey way! It is 5 Star . Anailable on DVD from StudioCanal in the United Kingdom. Miss Fenn captures Elizabeth Taylor perfect and delivers every line of a great script with prefection. Covers Taylor Life as a child and goes up to her last marriage. Every part is perfect cast and sets and costumes are lush and beautiful. It offers and delivers everything that Liz and Dick did not.