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"ISN'T SHE GREAT"
(2000) (Bette Midler, Nathan Lane) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate None Moderate None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Mild Mild Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Drama: A brassy and vivacious woman, with the help of her publicist husband, attempts to reinvent herself as a trashy novelist in this look at the life and times of author Jacqueline Susann.
PLOT:
Jacqueline Susann (BETTE MIDLER) is a middle-aged woman who just wants to be famous. Despite some work in the theater and on the radio, she feels that she's passed her prime and missed the opportunity for fame. Thus, when publicist Irving Mansfield (NATHAN LANE) shows up and not only states his intention to take her on as a client, but also as his lover, Jacqueline is shocked.

Even so, she's thrilled when he lands her a national TV commercial contract as well as an appearance on a game show. Yet, those jobs don't manage to propel Jacqueline to the top and that, coupled with their having to institutionalize their toddler due to his autism, puts her into a tailspin that not even her best friend, actress Florence "Flo" Maybelle (STOCKARD CHANNING), can break.

It's not long, however, before Irving has come up with another idea, this time for Jacqueline to become a novelist. Although she's initially reluctant since she claims she knows nothing except for the sex and drug related activities of the entertainment world, she and Irving realize that would be the perfect fodder for a trashy novel.

As such, Jacqueline begins writing "The Valley of the Dolls," a risqué and amateurish novel that no publisher wishes to touch. That is, except for Henry Marcus (JOHN CLEESE), who assigns straight-laced editor, Michael Hastings (DAVID HYDE PIERCE), to work with Jacqueline in refining her work. Although their styles clash, the two finally achieve their goal and, with Irving's help, begin promoting her book. As Jacqueline progressively gets closer to attaining her dreams of global fame, she must contend with criticism of her work, a secret battle with breast cancer, and her own self-doubts.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or author Jacqueline Susann, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BETTE MIDLER plays a brassy woman who wants to be famous and thus writes a sexually explicit novel about her knowledge of the entertainment business to do so. She also uses strong profanity, drinks some, and must face the consequences of being diagnosed with breast cancer and institutionalizing her son due to his autism.
  • NATHAN LANE plays her publicist husband who truly loves her and pushes her toward success, but becomes somewhat jealous/lost in the shadows of it once she achieves it.
  • STOCKARD CHANNING plays Jacqueline's best friend who shows up every once in a while to cheer her up or just hang around. She also drinks and smokes.
  • DAVID HYDE PIERCE plays her straight-laced editor who must contend with Jacqueline and Irving's less than professional demeanor.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated comedy/drama. Profanity is rated as heavy due to at least 9 uses of the "f" word, along with other strong profanities, while some colorful phrases also occur. Sexually related dialogue is also present, while drawings that appear during the opening credits show scantily clad/partially nude women occasionally in suggestive poses.

    A moderate amount of drinking occurs, while some comments are made about drug use as related to the characters appearing in the protagonist's novel. Several characters smoke a few times and some bad attitudes are present, as are a few tense family moments. Finally, some thematic issues (breast cancer, institutionalizing an autistic child, etc.) are also present.

    The rest of the film's categories, however, are void of any other major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • The opening title sequence contains drawings in the style of a romance novel that show (among other things) pills and a martini.
  • In various scenes set in a restaurant occasionally shown in the movie, people have drinks.
  • Jacqueline and Irving have drinks while watching her TV commercial.
  • Irving drinks by himself in a bar.
  • Irving asks Flo if she wants, among other things, some gin.
  • Flo has a drink and then moments later, has another one.
  • We hear that the dolls of Jacqueline's novel are pills (uppers and downers).
  • Jacqueline, Irving and Michael have drinks.
  • A character playing singer Jim Morrison drinks liquor from a bottle.
  • Jacqueline, Irving and Michael have drinks again.
  • People have champagne at a reception.
  • Flo and Michael have drinks.
  • Jacqueline and Flo have drinks.
  • Jacqueline and Irving have wine/champagne with Aristotle Onassis.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • We see a brief flashback of Jacqueline and another performer with references that they were having an affair (him cheating on his wife), but that it's now over.
  • Jacqueline mocks/attacks the intelligence (or lack thereof) of a dumb blonde actress who appears on a TV game show with her, and later makes fun of Michael and his mother (upon seeing her she states, "She gave birth?").
  • Some viewers may take offense with Jacqueline confronting God after learning that she has breast cancer and yelling at Him, "F*ck you" and asking if He's bored for having stricken her with that disease.
  • Likewise, some viewers may take offense at Irving - while promoting the book -- telling a group of nuns that if they liked the Old Testament, they'll certainly like "Valley of the Dolls" (a story about sex and drugs). We then see one nun leafing through the book with a guilty grin on her face. Later, Irving has some school kids repeat his line about wanting the novel for Christmas.
  • Irving becomes jealous of and/or lost in the shadows of Jacqueline's success and nearly walks away from their business relationship and marriage because of that.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Drawn handgun/Stage handgun: Seen on a theater poster and used in a play respectively.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," Sh*thead," "Sh*tload," "Moron(s)," "Whores," "Snot-nosed putz," "Cut the crap," "Pissed off," "Nuts" (crazy), "Dyke," "Who the hell do you think you are?" "Tight ass," "Up yours," "Chick" (woman) and "Nut house."
  • A publisher gives the folded arm gesture for "f*ck you."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 9 "f" words (1 used sexually), 5 "s" words, 9 slang terms for/using male genitals ("dingle" and "c*cks*cker"), 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 5 hells, 2 asses, 2 craps, 1 S.O.B., and 5 uses each of "Oh God" and "Oh my God," 2 each of "G-damn," "For Christ's sakes" and "My God" and 1 use each of "God" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The opening title sequence contains drawings somewhat in the style of a romance novel that show the following: A close-up of a woman's cleavage, a woman wearing only a bikini bottom (with her bare back turned toward the camera), the torso of a woman showing the bottom of her bare breasts as well as her suggestively pulling the top of her pants down, another of a woman's arms covering her bare breasts, one showing a man's hand partially down inside the back of a woman's pants and a glimpse of the side of her bare breast, another that shows two bare-breasted women in an embrace (nothing explicit is seen), yet another showing the top of a woman's bare butt as she's taking off her top (part of her bare breast is seen) and finally a woman covering her bare breasts with her hands/arms.
  • We see a brief flashback of Jacqueline and another performer with references that they were having an affair (him cheating on his wife), but that it's now over.
  • An actress on a TV game program shows a lot of cleavage.
  • Jacqueline shows some cleavage.
  • While complaining about not having an interesting enough life to write a novel, Jacqueline comments that all she knows about are "people f*cking their way into movies" and "t*ts" and "ass."
  • We hear passages from Jacqueline's novel as she writes it. They include comments about it being rare for a woman to feel anything or climax during sex, and that having a great body was for having a night with some man.
  • Later, she walks out and asks Irving if she can write about orgasms, and then about "orgasms in swimming pools" and he gives his consent for her to do that. We then see her typing, "I'm not wearing my diaphragm, do it the other way" and we then hear her commenting, "It began to slither into my body."
  • Irving later walks in wondering about a certain passage where Jacqueline wrote about an unspeakable sexual act and she clarifies it by stating, "Up her butt." Later, we hear a passage about "she stroked her thighs, her fingers touching between her legs."
  • Flo comments on some man wanting her and that he was huge.
  • While editing the manuscript, there's talk of some character having to look for sex elsewhere since his wife/girlfriend was too tired. Then there's talk about a character's "dingle" (penis) blowing in the breeze. When Michael objects to that term, Jacqueline repeats it several times and asks, "Haven't you got one?" She then goes on to ask what they call it in his upper class land, and then suggests a "butter churn."
  • Commenting again on the manuscript, Michael mentions characters having "wild lesbian sex," but stops when his grandmother and great aunt walk in. Jacqueline then asks if those ladies, when in high school, knew of girls who liked other girls. Michael's aunt then mentions that she was one of them. Later, a question is asked of them regarding whether they'd worry about a man being dumb if he was good looking and sexy in bed. They say that they wouldn't.
  • When Irving honks the horn to get Jacqueline to leave, she jokingly tells him through the window about herself and Michael, "We're coming. We're having sex."
  • When meeting with some Teamsters, Jacqueline mentions that her book is about the hottest, sexiest and "well hung" men.
  • While shopping with Irving for jewelry for Jacqueline, Flo spots some pearls and states that if a man bought her those, she'd not only have sex with him, but that she'd enjoy it as well.
  • SMOKING
  • Flo smokes several times as does one of Michael's coworkers, while various miscellaneous/background characters also smoke in a few scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Jacqueline and Irving make the painful decision to send their autistic toddler off to a special facility for such children (although we see little of the decision making process). They do visit him in several later scenes as he grows older.
  • Irving becomes jealous of and/or lost in the shadows of Jacqueline's success and nearly walks away from their business relationship and marriage because of that.
  • Jacqueline dies and we briefly hear Irving comment on this as well as him looking pensive about that.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the story and its portrayal of the real-life author.
  • Why Jacqueline and Irving sent their autistic child off to a special facility and only occasionally see him through the years as he grows up.
  • Breast cancer and Jacqueline's worrying about anyone finding out about it.
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a play, a man pretends to shoot Jacqueline's stage character.
  • In a scene from a movie two women briefly struggle with each other.



  • Reviewed January 27, 2000 / Posted January 28, 2000

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