Hard to imagine myself saying this, but it would have been better if Jacqueline Susann had written this movie. It would have been dumb and unbelievable and even grotesque, but it would not have been boring.
The tag line for the movie is “Talent isn’t everything” and indeed, that is its theme. Bette Midler plays Jacqueline Susann, sensationally untalent-ed but best-selling author of the very sensational “Valley of the Dolls.”
Susann has just one goal in life — to be famous. She wants “mass love.” And that’s the problem with the movie. It has clever dialogue and bright direction, but it wants us to love Jackie as much as her adoring husband does (the title is taken from his favorite comment about her). We can feel sympathy for her. She has an autistic child and becomes very ill with breast cancer. It’s fun to see her triumph over her stuffy editor’s urgings on grammar, consistency, and taste. And it is always nice to see someone’s dream come true.
But this dream is so selfish, so trashy, so empty that we just don’t like or believe her. The movie’s point of view seems to be that a fantasy of fabulousness wrapped up in Gucci pantsuits and manicured poodles is enough to engage us. Jackie herself would never have created a character so shallow — not a female character, anyway.
Parents should know that in addition to a sour moral vaccuousness, this movie includes explicit sexual references.