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. I hoped this would be an over-the-top, campy funny mess, but it was simply dull and fragmented.
But the death knell for this movie is Lohan. I have literally seen cats who give better performances than her. Her performance in this movie is more Tommy Wiseau than Elizabeth Taylor -- a doughy, puffy-faced, larygngitic mess that croaks her way through unconvincing fights and crying jags, unable to even convey BOREDOM.
And yes, she is even WORSE when she tries to convey some emotional depth ("I am your ocean, but he was your anchor"). For example, Taylor's "suicide" -- complete with prancing, posing and Bella-Swan-style "despairisms" -- is one of the worst scenes I have seen on television. EVER.
It makes me feel sorry for Grant Bowler, who actually seems to be trying REALLY REALLY HARD despite Lohan and a dreadful script dragging him down. Despite the movie's awfulness, he does convey some of the tormented, hard-drinking poet, when he isn't being saddled with dreadful dialogue. And David Hunt gives one of the few good performances as Burton's tragic brother Ifor.
I hoped that "Liz and Dick" would be a movie that was hilariously, mockably bad... but no, it's just tedious and horribly written, with the worst-cast Elizabeth Taylor EVER.