Lifetime aired its buzzed-about biopic on the late Brittany Murphy — aptly titled The Brittany Murphy Story — Saturday night. Controversy reached a fever pitch last week when Murphy’s father Angelo Bertolotti told Examiner he is “outraged” by the “hideous, unauthorized, and completely untrue” film. However, after watching the movie, he isn’t too far off-base.
The Brittany Murphy Story is bad, and that’s an understatement. The film is plagued by poor acting (yes, even for Lifetime), choppy time jumps, and tonal inconsistencies. If we’re to believe Lifetime, Murphy (played by Amanda Fuller) was a too-trusting, insecure victim to paparazzi and shady con-artists — namely, her husband Simon Monjack, who died five months after Murphy in the same room from the same cause. The film is more exploitative than exploratory. Is any of this true? We might never know, but fans certainly shouldn’t be happy about it.
Below we broke down our seven largest grievances with The Brittany Murphy Story. They range from trivial (someone please explain the wig chosen for the “Alicia Silverstone” character) to important — are we seriously not going to discuss Oscar-winning films like Girl, Interrupted (1999) or 8 Mile (2002)? Take a look, and let us know what you think about the network’s latest biopic in the comments below.
The acting is dreadful.
It’s Lifetime, so the bar wasn’t set too high, but the performances in The Brittany Murphy Story do not even pass for “so bad, they’re good.” They’re just really bad. The reaction Murphy gives when she finds out she’s been cast in Clueless (her big break) is so tepid and awkward, it’s like she found out Applebee’s added a new soup/salad combination to its menu. “Oh, that’s great.”
Some of Murphy’s greatest film roles go unacknowledged.
We understand Lifetime had a time limit and couldn’t give all Murphy’s movies attention, but we have bones to pick with the ones ignored (and highlighted, for that matter). Sin City (2005), Girl, Interrupted, and 8 Mile — three of Murphy’s most acclaimed works — are ignored completely. There’s also no mention of fan favorites like Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) or Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). But the movie that gets the most attention? 2003’s Just Married, co-starring Ashton Kutcher. The two briefly dated after the project, but still: It wasn’t her best work nor a pivotal part of her life. We wanted to learn more about her relationship with Eminem!
Everyone is “wigging” out.
There’s only one reason to hate-watch this movie, and that’s for the wigs. Seriously, how did they even make it on set? The wig for Alicia Silverstone is about four sizes too big and weirdly placed, and the jet-black bob Murphy dons to lunch with her agent makes her look completely unrecognizable. Five-year-olds playing dress-up have looked more believable in wigs than these girls.
Can we not do the time warp again?
The time jumps in the film are so erratic, it’s jarring. One minute, it’s 1995 and Murphy is enjoying the success from Clueless; the next, it’s 2001 and her career milestones in between seem nonexistent. It takes about five minutes to discern what year it is at any given point in the film, which is quite frustrating.
Amanda Fuller sounded more like Clueless Tai than Murphy.
Someone needed to tell Fuller this was a Brittany Murphy biopic, not Murphy told through the lens of her Clueless character Tai Frasier. Fuller adopts Tai’s signature deep cadence and fidgety mannerisms throughout the film; however, Murphy’s voice wasn’t quite as robust IRL. Either Fuller didn’t watch any real Murphy interviews prepping for this role, or her dialect coach should be fired. Stat.
We’re still left with many questions.
The details of Murphy’s personal life in her later years are still unclear, and the film does not help set the record straight at all. Murphy’s reported drug use is mentioned briefly, but not explored to the degree confused fans were hoping for. Also, Murphy’s death still remains a mystery: Was it really caused by pneumonia or was she poisoned like her father believes? The latter theory (unfounded or not) isn’t even mentioned in the film.
Murphy is exploited, not honored, in this movie.
Murphy was a talented actress who deserved much more than what this film did for her. The inconsistent script gives no opportunity to see Murphy do more than play the victim, freak out randomly, and make poorly thought-out decisions (like marrying Monjack, after all but confirming he is a con-artist). We know there is more to it. The Brittany Murphy Story does not tell Brittany Murphy’s story; it doesn’t even scratch the surface. True life exploration is replaced with shoddy camp fare that makes Murphy more of a caricature than a human being. And that’s perhaps the biggest tragedy of all.