Photo Credit: Jack Zeman/Lifetime
Sunday's New York Times ran a story on "exuberant pans," which are critical reviews "so energetically negative that they seem to achieve liftoff." This weekend, Lindsay Lohan has been on the receiving end of several such pans.
After what has seemed like a lifetime of buzz, Liz & Dick aired Sunday night, and the criticism has been brutal. In his article for Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker seems practically annoyed to have to waste time writing about this "peculiar, drab, damp little TV-movie." It's not just the film he abhors, but Lohan's acting in particular. "When she opens her mouth, Lohan doesn’t speak in the high-register, almost girlish voice that [Elizabeth] Taylor was using well into her 20s -- instead, we heard the raspy rattle familiar to anyone who’s seen Lohan on TMZ or in the ABC Family movie Labor Pains," he writes. "No effort seems to have gone into Lohan’s preparation other than to have her eyes tinted Liz-violet."
"She captures none of Taylor's generously displayed voluptuousness, none of the sloppy good humor that endeared her to the public -- not even that glass-scratching voice," writes Tom Gliatto at People. "This is not Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin." Ouch. Worst of all may be Tim Goodman's "bottom line" assessment in The Hollywood Reporter: He calls Liz & Dick "both an awful mess and an instant classic of unintentional hilarity."
Despite the silly amounts of money she probably received to star in the telefilm, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for Lohan. How exhausting it must be to walk in her shoes! She's clearly fighting personal demons, played out through drug and alcohol addiction and brushes with the law. She's hounded not only by the tabloid press but by two parents and who've rode her famous coat tails in order to fashion their own, dubious notoriety. Exhibit A: Click here to watch a montage of Dina Lohan's scattered interview with Dr. Phil in September.
With all this to deal with, she's now contending with a slew of bad reviews on the movie she planned as her comeback vehicle. This is not to say that reviewers should have gone easy on the movie out of pity. As Margaret Sullivan writes in the The New York Times piece, "there are times when it is only right to wield a sharp knife." But when Gliatto concedes, near the end of his People review, that "Lohan, despite all her career troubles, is still a star," you've got to appreciate that small kindness.
He goes on: "And one star playing another makes for a fascinating performance, if not a great or even good one. She has thrown herself into an impossible project, in a grand gamble to reestablish herself, and she attacks the part with a relentless, huffing-and-puffing determination that throws any acting technique under the bus and yet still rivets attention."
Lohan still does rivet attention. She just needs to channel it into a worthwhile project that allows her to shine. Better luck next time, Lindsay.