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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.07%
Just Average: 7.41%
Pretty Crappy: 1.85%
Sucks: 1.85%

3 reviews, 36 user ratings

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People vs. Larry Flynt, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The passion of the perv."
4 stars

Woody Harrelson has a way of starring in high-profile, controversial movies that split me right down the middle. There was 'Natural Born Killers,' which I've seen five times, and I still haven't decided whether it's brilliant or abhorrent. Now comes 'The People Vs. Larry Flynt,' which I'll be glad to see another four times, because it's funny and absorbing. And also slippery and superficial.

It has moments of greatness and power, and moments of shameless preaching-to-the-converted. In other words, it's an Oliver Stone movie -- except that he only produced it. Milos Forman got the directing job, which he carries out with minimum flash. Or flesh, either: this biopic about a porn king is less erotic than Jerry Maguire. Forman's heart is in the legal issues of Larry's life, and he delivers a lively thesis on First Amendment rights.

Larry Flynt (Harrelson), the scurrilous publisher of Hustler magazine, is painted here as an ironic American hero -- a scumbag forced into political awareness by his legal battles. The Moral Majority try to jail him for obscenity; his straight-arrow lawyer, Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton), is driven to distraction by Larry's buffoonish antics in court. A parody ad in Hustler is the last straw: its target, Reverend Jerry Falwell, sues for $40 million, and Larry takes it to the Supreme Court. We know what happened: Flynt, by then paralyzed from the waist down by a sniper's bullet, won his case and made it safe for the press to lampoon public figures.

Yet the real hero of the movie isn't Larry. It's Alan Isaacman, who catches the smug Falwell in a contradiction on the stand. For Larry, it's a pyrrhic victory. When he gets the news, he's staring at a video of his wife Althea (Courtney Love), who didn't live to share his triumph. Addicted to painkillers and stricken with AIDS, Althea had drowned in her bathtub eight months before. I wanted to see more of Larry and Althea, who enjoy a loving but open marriage (they both sleep with other women). Their romance is both perverse and innocent. Vulgar, vivid, and always touching, Courtney Love's Althea is a rich creation, and Harrelson does some of his most tender work opposite her. The strange and affecting bond between these doomed soulmates is the heart of the movie, providing its beats of true greatness.

The movie's flaws, I think, can be traced to the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who also wrote Ed Wood. Both movies look at their disreputable subjects with rose-colored hindsight: Ed Wood was a nice guy who loved making movies (not a talentless hack), and Larry Flynt was a freedom fighter (not a sleazeball). The movie congratulates us for snickering at Larry's prudish enemies, as if only censors would be put off by what's actually in Hustler (ever flipped through it?).

'The People Vs. Larry Flynt,' at its best, is a rambunctious American saga. It gives us Larry the pig, the public clown, the rebel. But only intermittently do we find Larry the man. Maybe we're meant to think that the man is less important than what he represents. Unfortunately, that cuts both ways.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=671&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/30/06 14:17:56
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User Comments

1/12/12 mr.mike Better than I expected , still about 20 minutes too long. 4 stars
12/28/09 Dane Youssef Carey does not impersonate Kaufman. He becomes him. He posesses him. 5 stars
9/01/09 darren courtney love doesn't even make a beleivable addict, and that should come natura, great fil 5 stars
11/30/06 David Pollastrini very well done 5 stars
8/24/05 ES Free speech is an ideal that everyone should have equal oppurtunity to wield 4 stars
10/21/04 John suprisingly involving and well made film - good intelligent enetrtainment 4 stars
1/18/04 fhkd A very fine film about American free marketing and liberty. 5 stars
8/08/03 The Man This is not about porn but about American rights. Only flaw- Flynt is too whitewashed 5 stars
6/14/03 Chiasso, Maurimar A importância da luta por uma idéia é a importância da idéia da vida. 5 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby Superb perfs by Harrleson and Norton help this 1-sided, myopic Forman soapbox. 2 stars
2/23/03 Ananta Mainali Excellent 5 stars
1/07/02 Andrew Carden His Life Was Intering and Exciting, This Wasn't. 3 stars
10/03/01 Bada Bing Crosby Great movie..why do so many douchebags post at this site? 5 stars
7/12/01 bobbuttons pretty good 4 stars
5/07/01 Mikko Salminen Interesting life, average movie. 3 stars
2/24/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I'm not a Hustler fan, but this movie is too damn good to ignore... 5 stars
1/18/01 Perverted Pixie Everything from strung-out Courtney to lazy-eyed Crispin was sensational! 5 stars
11/17/00 salvo good stuff 4 stars
8/28/00 Assassin Free speech liberalism at its most disgusting and zombifying. Harrelson is good though 1 stars
5/17/00 Creeper They ALLLL rocked 5 stars
12/07/99 Glitter Berry Fabulous support for the 1st amendment 5 stars
11/06/99 Anthony Ellis A really involving story with great acting and a great screenplay. A real surprise! 5 stars
11/01/99 Bozo learned more about being american from this movie than all the years in school 5 stars
9/03/99 Elizaveta Pure Genius! Edward Norton is the brilliance of this generation. 5 stars
7/02/99 Daria Fantastic performances all around. Great stuff. 5 stars
5/02/99 Michael Grimm good writing and performances 4 stars
12/25/98 Erich, the Mad Bassist The one good thing Courtney ever did. Larry Flynt and Dwayne Tinsley for prez & v.p.! 5 stars
11/25/98 Erika Linden Green I agree! 5 stars
11/18/98 MinxxDaShorty I love this movie!! Anyone who throws oranges at a judge has got to be cool 5 stars
11/06/98 Lord Of The Dunce A great fucking film. Outstandingly written, involving, fast and funny. Love stank. 5 stars
10/30/98 Silent Rob While this IS a 'F.A.'film, I would LOVE to see a Stone directed interpretation! 5 stars
10/23/98 grunter bio-by-numbers; suprisingly formulaic; porno scrubbed clean with nary a beaver shot, odd. 3 stars
10/19/98 Kwyjibo Superbly directed and written, and Woody will never be better. 5 stars
8/28/98 Johny Good, minus Courtney Love being way too old for her part 4 stars
8/25/98 Mister Whoopee I really did need to see Courtney Love naked. I loved it. 5 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress i really didn't need to see courtney love naked, but overall it was ok. 3 stars
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  25-Dec-1996 (R)



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