Welcome to Disasterpiece Theatre Presents, a weekly feature in which the dedicated staff of TSJ review some of the greatest films of all time. Of course, when we say “greatest films of all time” we actually mean “films no sane person would ever sit through willingly.”
In this installment of Disasterpiece Theatre Presents, we take a look back at the epic Mariah Carey bomb known as Glitter, a movie (and accompanying soundtrack) so horrid, it sent the pop singer to the brink of a mental breakdown. It was intended to be a drama, but as these six scenes reveal, it’s much more at home being filed under the “comedy” category.
Here are six hilarious moments from a drama starring Mariah Carey…
Padma Lakshmi Sings
Okay, so we’re kind of cheating here, because this scene was intended to be funny, but that doesn’t make it any less jarring when it happens. Padma Lakshmi, who you might know as the smoking hot host from Top Chef, plays the lead “singer” in a girl group tossed together by a music Svengali played by the perpetually creepy Terrence Howard.
In a scene that’s probably way more of an accurate depiction of the music industry than any of us hope, Lakshmi is singing lead in the studio and the results are less than stellar. Hilariously, Howard asks the studio engineer to turn Mariah Carey’s backing vocals way up, Lakshmi’s vocals way down and, somehow, nobody seems to notice the difference.
Mariah Carey’s Head Explodes
This gem happens after Mariah gets her “big break” which, in 1983, apparently amounts to having a club DJ tell you he wants to record a song with you. Holy shit, someone’s about to be famous! The scene shifts from Mariah contemplating her impending ascent to stardom to an inexplicable shot of fireworks going off in a dance club. This predated the Great White club fire tragedy, apparently. The top notch film editing at play here makes it appear as if Mariah’s head just straight up explodes. How did this movie flop? That shit was awesome!
The Movie Forgets What Year It Is
Speaking of that big break with the club DJ, we’re not sure what the intention was here, but the song that catapults Mariah Carey to stardom is a cover of “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.” Depending on race, you either identify that as a Robert Palmer classic or the breakthrough hit from R&B songstress Cherrelle. If you’re under the age of 25, you probably have no clue what we’re talking about either way. But here’s the rub, by all indications, this is all happening in 1983. That song wasn’t even released until 1984. Is this movie about the life of little known R&B singer Cherrelle? We sure hope so, because that’s the only way this even sort of makes sense.
Da Brat’s Epic Overacting
You remember Da Brat, right? She was one of the biggest female rappers of the 90′s before a slate of legal troubles and an unfortunate appearance on a VH1 reality show kind of derailed her career. She famously dissed her Surreal Life cast mate Jane Weidlin (of the Go-Gos) for being a has-been without at all realizing she was smack dab in the middle of a cast that consisted of nothing but has-beens. It’s not like she was tearing up the charts at the time either, you know? Oh, and did we mention she once dated that creepy robot who married Liza Minnelli?
But none of that is the point here. We’re here to talk about her acting in Glitter. Remember that time when Ashley Simpson got caught lip syncing on SNL and broke into a nervous dance to cover her shame? That’s the perfect summary of Da Brat’s acting. When in doubt, just start dancing.
How did this not lead to a huge acting career? It’s a mystery to us, that’s for sure.
Mariah Gets Seduced By the Magic of the Marimba
Let this be a lesson, fellas. When in doubt about how to warm the icy heart of a lady you’re hoping to have relations with, nothing does the trick like a glorified version of the xylophone. In this scene, just moments after refusing to come up to her DJ savior’s apartment for a nightcap and swearing she’s on to his seductive ways, Mariah relents. That exterior of prudishness is destroyed for good when dude bangs out a few notes on a marimba, which basically sounds like a xylophone on a vacation in Jamaica. Within seconds, the couple is in the sack.
We’re not sure if this works in real life, but we’re not above giving it a try sometime.
Mariah’s Perpetual Look of Surprise
Far and away, above everything else, the most hilarious aspect of Glitter has to be the look of shock and amazement that’s painted on Mariah Carey’s face every single second she spends on camera. It’s almost as if the script writer included specific directions asking her to look completely shocked at every single thing that unfolds around her. A task that, if she had any inkling of the cinematic disaster unfolding around her, probably wasn’t that hard to accomplish.
What’s most confusing about this, and the movie as a whole, is that Mariah Carey is actually a pretty decent actress. She was quite excellent in the mob drama Wise Girls and even got a few award nominations for her role in Precious. But in Glitter, the hack directing job and horrifying script just made her seem lost in space. It’s no wonder this whole debacle nearly drove her insane. Kudos to her for rebounding from it all like she did.