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Based on a best-selling autobiography, this comedy drama is the surprisingly sweet-natured life story of a controversial radio personality. Howard Stern, who stars as himself, is a nerdy New York kid who dreams of a disc jockey career despite being a self-loathing klutz who lacks a traditional broadcaster's voice. A strikeout artist in college, Stern's romantic travails end when he meets and marries Alison (Mary McCormack), a beautiful social worker. Stern's early career at several radio stations is undistinguished. Bored, he makes his life the centerpiece of his show, including his obsessions with sex and bathroom humor, and he finds willing cohorts in news reporter Robin Quivers and producer Fred Norris. After an abortive tenure at a Washington D.C. station that loathes his high-rated antics, he lands at NBC in New York. Again, Stern clashes regularly with executives, especially Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton (Paul Giamatti), who runs roughshod over Stern's team. At home, Stern's tendency to discuss the intimate details of his marriage takes a toll, reaching a meltdown when he jokes about Alison's recent miscarriage on-air.
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Cons: Ending seems hastened, almost anti-climatic somehow, lousy DVD
“Lesbians equal ratings”
Howard Stern is the man who had enough vision, (whether it was accidentally acquired or not) to realize that all he had to do to attain huge success as a radio personality was to just be himself. Howard’s “self” is probably a lot like yours and mine, sleazy at the core, immature, perverted, and with a slimy curiosity of things that are better not discussed in our society. Yet Howard lets it all fly - whether it’s his flatulence fascination or his attraction to all things lesbian. The reason for his success is that his listeners feel a connection to Stern through their ego’s seedy side, and therefore Howard becomes their mouthpiece.
Howard Stern realized that he wanted to have a career in radio ever since he was five years old. He grew an interest when he was so young through going to his father’s radio station. His father Ben Stern was an engineer in a Manhattan-based station while the family lived in Roosevelt, Long Island. He had shown an interest in entertaining people also at an early age. He would perform puppet shows at retirement homes, and when he was older he attended Boston University and graduated in the mid 70s.
He started getting disc jockey gigs after college, but went virtually unnoticed. His confidence was low, and his skill was shaky at best. With the help of his wife’s criticism and some fate-filled accidents, he then started to feel his way behind the microphone and as he relaxed he was able to be himself more. He moved around the north east a lot when he was early in his career, and then he finally moved to Washington DC, it is here where he started to get noticed. He was paired up with Robin Quivers, his newswoman/sidekick in DC. When WNBC saw that their audience was disappearing, they figured it was Stern as the reason why. So in haste, without even hearing Stern on the radio, they hired him for the afternoon drive time slot.
When they got to know Stern’s crass brand of humor, they wanted to get rid of him, but because they signed a contract with him, they would have to pay him millions if they decided to fire him. So they were stuck with him, but that didn’t mean that they couldn’t try and tame the DJ. NBC Management put office lackey Kenny Rushton on Stern to try and either neuter him or make him so crazy that he’ll decide to quit. This turned into a major battle between Stern and NBC. Who will win? Is this the end of Stern’s career? Are these questions silly because most of us know how the story turns out? Find out when you watch Private Parts.
I love bio-pics, don’t you? Doesn’t everybody? I thought so. Well, we like it when they’re done right anyway. There are some great biopics out there, yet none really come to mind right now of one where the subjected persona was played by themselves. Howard Stern takes on the role of Howard Stern from his college years and on, and he does a perfect job. It makes me think of the Seinfeld episode when he was casting for his sitcom “Jerry” and his next-door neighbor Kramer comes in to audition for the part of Kramer. It sounds easy enough, but in the end it means that you’re going to have to know how to act. Kramer may not know how to act like Kramer, but Stern delivers a very believable Stern. Even more impressive is his ability to play himself on the radio when he wasn’t that good. He gives himself an on-air voice, which sounds like Kermit the Frog, and banter, which is laughable and embarrassing especially when you compare it with the Howard we all know, and respect. Well maybe 'respect' is too strong a word.
This film marks Paul Giamatti’s first major role as far as I can tell. He portrays WNBC lackey Kenny “Pig Vomit” Rushton, and he also nails the character as a sniveling, two-faced, double-crossing rat that he was (according to Stern in his autobiography of the same name). If you were a listener of Stern’s show back in the 1990s when he was still married to his first wife Alison, you got to know her pretty good, and although Mary McCormack is much cooler than the real Alison Stern, she still comes off as authentic somehow. Mary McCormack, like Giamatti was virtually unknown when she was cast in this role. Mary’s super good looks do not even seem to clash with Stern’s ogre-like appearance somehow, in fact her radiant appearance even seems to compliment Stern and makes him look more attractive than he is.
If you are familiar with Stern, you’ll probably expect to see a couple of naked ladies, and/or some lesbians, and you’d be correct. Yet even though porn star Jenna Jameson is so naked in this film, and although her nudity is oh-so gratuitous, it’s also completely in context. Speaking of Jenna, there are many cameos in Private Parts that needed to be seen as we go through the years of Howard’s life – including John Stamos, Dee Snyder, Ozzy Osbourne, Flavor Flav, Slash, AC/DC, Mia Farrow and even Tiny Tim.
This is a sleazy film, yet it is also inspiring. It could be offensive, yet it’s hilarious too. This movie is the perfect compliment to what Howard ‘s show used to be, it’s fun, entertaining, funny, and yet not for everybody. I miss Howard in the morning as I don’t have a subscription to Satellite radio, but my memories are mostly fond. I remember there was talk back sometime before 2004 that there would be a sequel made that included his run for governor, his move to K-Rock and more. Maybe this why the ending seems a bit anti-climatic. To remedy this, maybe he should do a sequel giving us a real excuse to fork up $10 a month to hear him on his SIRIUS radio station. This film desperately needs a facelift as far as the DVD is concerned. The aspect ratio is widescreen yet it lacks a 16:9 aspect ratio. Hopefully this will make its way to the blu-ray format soon.
Directed by: Betty Thomas (Brady Bunch Movies, 28 Days, Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel)
Written by: Howard Stern (Howard Stern’s Butt Bongo Fiesta) Len Blum (Stripes, Over the Hedge), Michael Kalesniko (Spoiler)
Starring: Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack (Full Frontal, 1408), Paul Giamatti (Man on the Moon, The Illusionist) Gary Dell’Abate, Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls, Wonder Boys)
Length: 109 minutes
Rated: R (strong language, nudity, crude humor)
Rating: 4½ stars
The movie is at times sweet and funny, and works pretty well as a tongue-in-cheek biopic. Most of the cringe worthy dirt from the book is scrubbed out of this story, and that's probably for the best. Did we really want to see depictions of Howard's problems with underwear and anal fissures that are such a big part of the book?
It's sad and dripping with irony that Howie managed to become Don Imus before retiring. His new politically correct show, bereft of whack packers, is boring and unfunny, sure... but that should not factor into anyone's score of this movie as a stand-alone project. As a movie, it works and is more entertaining than 50% of what Hollywood produces under the banner of comedy.
"But, Anne," I can hear you asking, "didn't you give this a 5-star rating? That makes no sense?!"
Here's the thing - yes, there is raunch, and nudity in this movie, but for the most part it is actually part of the story, and it is, believe it or not, a love story, and a lovely and funny one (of course, he's now divorced from her - but that doesn't detract from the movie).
So, ladies, if your guy asks you to watch this with him - watch it - don't let on that it's not actually a raunch-fest like the Stern radio show - it'll be our little secret. ;-)