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on April 2, 2006
This film is not for everyone. As much as it does, at times, candy-coat the raunchy nature of Howard Stern's radio show, PRIVATE PARTS will never convert adamant Howard-haters.

Still if you sit back and enjoy the story, this is a fun movie about the rise of a famous (and to some infamous) radio personality who invented a genre of talk show that's been copied relentlessly over the last 20 years.

Directed by "Hill Street Blues" actress Betty Thomas and loosely based on a best selling book by the same title, PRIVATE PARTS stars all the characters Howard made famous since the early 80s on DC and New York City radio shows.

As a result, this cast is mostly comprised of non-actors playing themselves, at various stages of their lives so you have to "suspend belief," as Howard himself urges viewers at the beginning of this film. (A 40 year old Howard Stern doesn't look like the geeky teenager he once was, though trust me he still looks geeky).

Since every Howard fan has already seen this film many times over, I would recommend PRIVATE PARTS to open-minded people who are unfamiliar with him but up for a great tale about the life (complete with its struggles and successes) of one of the most controversial characters of the late 20th century.

Because I love his actual radio show, but found his old TV show, lacking dimensions of Howard that do not involve sex workers, I appreciated director Betty Thomas's approach to telling the Howard story. Rather than exclusively focusing on lesbians and pornography, Thomas also reveals the conflicting nature of Howard Stern, complete with an overbearing, critical father, an off-kilter mother and Howard's disturbingly normal and loving relationship with his wife.

What I loved best about PRIVATE PARTS were the scenes that depicted random people hearing Howard Stern's radio and literally looking shocked by what they were hearing. I remember the first time I heard Howard during the summer of 1985 when he was still on WNBC. What I heard that afternoon startled me and that is precisely what has kept me tuning in ever since.

It's not that I agree with Howard (though more often than not I do) it is just that I never hear people say the things that come out of his mouth. And that in a nutshell is precisely what makes Howard great. Rather than a foul-mouthed shockmeister, Howard is really the voice of a silenced group of people most of us interact with every day. It is not the voice of left-leaning Hollywood with its politically correct poster children.

Instead Howard is the vocal mouthpiece of the random Joe, who secretly thinks about sex 24 hours a day while straddling the fence between liberal and conservative opinions. Because ultimately he is obsessively concerned with himself, his weight, his body functions and the world around him as it relates to him, Stern offers a stream of conscious window into the inner minds of those complicated middle Americans who voted for Bush, made Bay Watch must-see TV and who to this day continue to baffle exit-pollers.

-- Regina McMenamin
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on September 10, 2015
When Howard Stern was at the peak of his popularity and notoriety back in '97, Ivan Reitman (producing) and director Betty Thomas decided to give Stern's biography a cinematic go ... though it should be said at once that this was Stern's project all the way. Script approval was his, and, perhaps disappointingly for some of his fans, he insisted on making a movie that was a love-letter to his wife Alison, who supported him in his early career. The love-letter to the marriage proved to be something of a final thank-you, however: the couple divorced a few years after the movie was released. Well, at least he thanked her.

It's two movies, really: the first is about the Sterns' marriage. I said above that Alison supported Stern; she also endured him. It's one thing to get over a near-affair with a B-actress; it's something else getting over listening to your husband cracking jokes on-air about your very recent miscarriage. The movie portrays Alison (Mary McCormack) as a saint and Howard (played by -- who else? -- himself) as a bumbling fellow who makes mistakes but always means well. It's not terribly convincing, but Stern obviously wanted to keep the movie comedic, so the fights depicted are short and temporary, like sudden small dark clouds sweeping over the horizon of a triumphant career and life. The movie goes about this business in a surprisingly conventional way, given the man it's about.

The other movie is about his early career as a shock-jock, and this part is much more interesting. His career starts in the Seventies at college radio and smaller markets, and we are reminded of just how desperately unfunny and uncool disc jockeys were Back in the Day. Well, my apologies if you think Wolfman Jack and Soupy Sales were funny and cool, because those guys were whom everyone else was awfully imitating. A man like Stern was sorely needed, and we watch as his time gradually comes: he drops the phony "radio voice", he starts talking about his personal life, and he finally goes to any lengths to be as outrageous as legally allowed by the FCC. His focus? Sex and bodily functions, areas of which we're all experts but never discuss in polite company. Stern dared to talk about both on the radio. The bible-thumpers would (and still) hate Stern, naturally. But the least convincing arguments against him came (and comes) from those concern-trolls who worried about such subjects "degrading" the "national conversation" or whatever. The argument would be more convincing if human beings weren't already degraded and nasty creatures. Sure, we sometimes paint a ceiling in the Sistine Chapel or discover a theory of relativity, but more often we're the defecating primates that we in fact are, with sex continually on our brains -- our very lecherous brains, no mammal more lecherous than us. Without the modern deodorizers we apply to our bodies, our homes and places of work would smell like a zoo. It was appointed to Howard Stern to remind us of all this, loudly, publicly, and very funnily.

What's strange though is that Stern himself never seriously cast himself as an uncompromising advocate of free speech. In this movie, his fights with radio producers and executives are fights about ratings rather than the First Amendment: if they just trusted him, he would (and did) bring in more market-share. Perhaps on closer inspection, it's not so strange after all: the movie-Stern is hardly an intimidating figure (unlike, say, Eric Bogosian in "Talk Radio"); he's a wispy and gentle nerd. Even as his career progresses and he loses the Seventies 'stache and gets cooler hair, he remains a mensch who just wants to provide for his family as comfortably as possible. Nevertheless, Stern emerges as a major First Amendment figure in the latter half of the 20th century. If you told that to him today, he'd probably agree in an over-the-top manner -- this is the geeky guy who ironically called himself "King of All Media", after all -- but he wouldn't bore you with long, earnest tales of his valiant struggles against censorship. He went to satellite radio to get away from all that ... and for a gargantuan 9-figure contract. Some of our heroes sacrifice themselves with great valor; others are accidental.

4 out of 5.
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on February 27, 2016
Okay. I confess. I played this film in one of my college media classes. AND THE STUDENTS LOVED IT. Stern tells a real story about a real DJ and how he rose to fame. And, and by the way, I will DEFINITELY continue to show it to my media classes.
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on November 5, 2015
In the 1980s and 1990s, I did not appreciate Howard Stern and his sexist remarks and behavior in the media. He sure had gotten the attention he wanted, and I thought he was simply a jerk. As with many, I knew nothing about his personal life, but disliked him because of his media personality. In this movie, he is depicted as a really nice guy who loves his wife and very loyal to his co-workers. I saw this film at a young age, and didn't quite appreciate it because I thought it was a fake display of his real life in order to change the minds of the audience about who he is as a real person. However, seeing Howard Stern in other capacities these days, not as a disk jockey, but as a tv personality, I believe this movie is genuine about his struggles to make it big in the media. The movie gets five stars because the acting was good, the story line explains a lot, and it brings out a lot of emotions: funny, angry, sad, etc. The chronological story-telling makes it easy to understand, and it was interesting to see the ups and downs of his life just like any other lives. Well done.
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on August 28, 2015
shock jock movie for the whole family? not really? but very well done: writer, directors, and untrained/trauined actors really do a number. they tell the story of the "schlemiel" who makes it on a great voice, hilarious stories, good taste in music, an ability to build a real radio troupe...and most importantly ...honesty!

viewers today of America's Got Talent, for example, will love this (even with the four letter words and bathroom humour). they might not understand what his Sirius / past Channel 9 in New York) show is all about but this is a very good deal for new fans.

great esp. for "old" fans! see Baba Booey and "Stuttering " John (in just one scene but is he outrageously funny, no "stutter" needed).
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on December 28, 2005
Howard Stern is the world's most famous radio DJ. He's obnoxious, sleazy, perverted, silly, and overrated. However, his 1997 semi-biographical film Private Parts, adapted from the book with the same title, is outrageously funny.

The movie gives us a closer look at Howard's college years, his beginnings on live radio, and rise to fame. But the movie focuses more on his romantic life with his wife-to-be Allison, played by Mary McCormack, his hysterical confrontations with WNBC's executive, the one Howard calls Pig Vomit, played by the even more hysterical Paul Giamatti, and his collaboration with long time partners Robin Quivers and Fred Norris, played by themselves.

I personally do not approve of or like Howard's show, but this movie cracked me up laughing when I first saw it, and still does today.

Recommended

B+
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on November 3, 2013
I never thought I would give Howard Stern more than one star for anything he did. But he changed me in this movie. It's actually a pretty good biographical piece about how he got to where he is today (or at least when the movie was made). His acting was pretty solid. He's surrounded with a decent cast. It's an ok movie! I was really surprised. I didn't think I'd be watching more than 5 minutes of it. But it's well written, well directed, and interesting. Worth a try!
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on May 1, 2016
If you love Howard Stern you'll love this movie. Nothing beats the end after a min or 2 of credits when pig vomit paul giamatti comes back on the scene for a final fair well. Hilarious!

I love that Stern plays himself along with Robin and Fred. The movie is funny from start to finish.
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on October 8, 2015
I think it was a very nice to know about how HS got his start and who he is because his radio/tv persona is very different from who he really is. That said, he seems like a very down-to-earth, nice person- but I was never a huge fan of his radio persona (so 4 stars). However, I do laugh when I have listened to or watched the show! Maybe that makes me a secret fan. My husband thinks he is just hilarious.
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on November 26, 2015
A nice movie that is probably a soft R-rating. It shows more the human side of Howard Stern rather than the raspier side of his radio persona. Mary McCormack was incredibly good as Alison, Howard's first wife. The guy who played Howard nailed it (Howard played himself).

Jim
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