(Betty Thomas, USA, 1997) 109 minutes


Director: Betty Thomas
Producer: Ivan Reitman
Screenplay: Len Blum, Michael Kalesniko based on the book by Howard Stern
Photography: Walt Lloyd
Editor: Peter Teschner
Music: Van Dyke Parks
and a great range of contemporary music
Howard Stern (Himself)
Robin Quivers (Himself)
Mary McCormack (Alison Stern)
Fred Norris (Himself)
Paul Giamatti (Kenny)
Gary Dell'Abate (Himself)
Jackie Martling (Himself)
Carol Alt (Gloria)

Reviews and notes

In America, Howard Stern is a megastar. His radio show dominates the ratings thanks to such gimmicks as nude women in the studio, on-air (simulated) sex and his tendency to say exactly what he wants, no matter how offensive... director Thomas applies the deft comic touch which made The Brady Bunch Movie such a hoot, to make for a deliriously funny, frequently outrageous romp.

Whatever else PRIVATE PARTS has or hasn't achieved, there's no doubt that it represents a landmark in the history of the biopic. With a heroic egotism that will come as no surprise to anyone who has heard his radio show, seen him on US television or read the best-selling autobiography on which this film is based, Howard Stern makes his acting debut playing himself from now on, all prospective cinematic biographies will have to consider the option (traceable back to Al Jolson's example) of putting their subject in the leading role. But is PRIVATE PARTS the long overdue next step forward from Wayne's World in the long march toward metatextual nirvana?...

Even in its attempts to be offensive PRIVATE PARTS falls somewhat between two stools. The relentless sexism for which Stern is justly notorious is acknowledged but not wallowed in. The only authentic nod to bad taste which is his bread and butter comes when he repeatedly throws a Frisbee into the face of a mentally disordered man while accompanying his wife's social work charges on a picnic, but even this is done in a bid to entertain.

It's not that this film is a whitewash, either personally or professionally. The audience is left in no doubt as to how long-suffering Stern's wife Alison is (she is the only one of Howard's inner circle not playing themselves here, and Mary McCormack brings an aggrieved nobility to a rather thankless part). And Stern's radio routines are here in all their barrel-bottom-skimming glory. Some of them, especially the ones where he hauls his would-be censors in the NBC boardroom over hot coals of wilful obscenity, are extremely funny. But the problem is the same one that attends all of radio's forays into cinema, which is that the whole point of the first medium is that you don't have to look at the person who's talking, and the whole point of the second is that you do.
-Ben Thompson, Sight & Sound.

Weblink: Review by David Edelstein, Slate.

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