(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 38
4.5 out of 5 🐙
In 1997, Howard Stern was not the Terry Gross anointed Howard Stern of today. When asked about the superficial, immature, misogynist, scatological, hyper-sexual content of his show back in the day, Stern replied “That’s not who I am anymore. I don’t really care about any of that. And it’s not to say I wouldn’t be on the radio today, commenting on somebody who wore an outrageous outfit to the Met Gala or something, but it’s done in a different way with a different approach. And a lot of that stuff I can’t stand now.” But that’t not who this movie was about.
Howard from the 90’s and early to mid aughts was everything you think he was. And when I type “you”, I largely mean people who have never listened to the show. The show is a lot more but that’s way out side the scope of this mini-review. The movie tries to show Howard’s persona outside the show. It dosn’t make excuses for his content. But Betty Thomas smartly made this movie just as much about the love of Howard’s life as his quest to become a success on the radio. She also sets him against despicable, smarmy, bland enemies (the most heinous played in an amazing turn by Paul Giamatti) to garner more support for the protagonist. It’s an old trick to surround a grey character with even nastier ones to make him shine relatively. Howard and Robin Quivers acquitted themselves just fine playing themselves. It could have been painful but Thomas’ deft direction pulled solid performances out of them.
At the end of the film, Thomas has shown a side of Stern probably only known to his legion of loyal listeners. Some people are always going to hate him. Some people are always going to love him. You can count me in the latter camp.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)