Lifetime’s unauthorized Britney Spears biopic presents itself as a fairy story come true, proper all the way down to the title. However Britney Ever After finally ends up enjoying simply as harmless as its topic as soon as did—Leslie Libman’s movie is extra fascinated by rehashing years-old innuendo and gossip than in exploring no matter components might need contributed to Spears’ breakdown or the determined want for like it posits she’s struggled with. All of this could possibly be put aside to take pleasure in a two-hour little bit of leisure that’s at the least conscious of its personal trashiness, however Britney Ever After insists it has extra noble intentions.
The movie regularly nods to an precise Spears documentary, 2008’s Britney: For The Report, for somewhat credibility enhance (it’s additionally value noting that Lifetime aired one other Spears doc, I Am Britney Jean, instantly after). That and a Google search appears to be the extent of the analysis. A biopic doesn’t should be deferential of its topic, however this explicit one doesn’t even appear all that educated. The movie ought to both introduce one thing new or at the least retell acquainted occasions in a compelling option to be worthwhile, however Britney Ever After does neither.
Starring Natasha Bassett as Spears, the movie follows the ellipsis-loving pop star from her breakout 12 months in 1998 to her quickie marriage in 2004, then again to her notorious breakup with Justin Timberlake, leaving no seedy stone unturned. ’Member how TMZ filmed her public breakdown in 2007? Nicely, Britney Ever After’s obtained that shit present amid its lowlight reel. There’s additionally her marriage to Kevin Federline, shedding custody of her two sons, her attainable substance abuse points, and the intercourse tape she purportedly made with Timberlake within the early 2000s. These are all real-life occasions (aside from the rumored intercourse tape), and are completely truthful recreation for dramatization right here.
However despite the fact that these are all memorable occasions, Britney Ever After forgets what made Spears well-known and subsequently ”worthy” of its biopic remedy—her music. Once they don’t immediately tie into some drama, Spears’ profession and ambitions are glossed over right here. Worse, the film options completely none of her songs. You don’t should be a Britney fan to note they’re lacking, as a result of among the funniest moments come from Bassett dutifully naming a music for the documentary-within-the-film, after which saying she’d fairly not discuss it as a result of she’s already carried out so advert nauseam. When she glances away from the digicam, you half count on to see a stern-faced lawyer waving a stop and desist letter on the digicam crew.
It’s not unusual for music biopic productions to come across hassle in acquiring the rights to their topics’ work. However these are Jackie Jormp-Jomp ranges of improvising and in any other case ignoring the elephant within the room. It’s a disgrace, and never simply because it wastes Bassett’s impression of Spears’ “child with a head chilly” vocal stylings, which she completely nails. However it additionally mirrors celeb magazines’ habits on the time; after some time, they have been solely fascinated by capturing her newest low. And since there’s no internal or outward critique right here, what we have now is only a tabloid come to life.
Sadly, Britney Ever After doesn’t embrace its insanity both. Except for the musical restrictions, the movie is free to play with Spears’ story as a lot because it needs. The singer didn’t authorize or in any other case take part in its manufacturing, and Anne-Marie Hess wasn’t precisely working from any licensed biographies of the singer for her script. (Perhaps that’s the excuse for botching Spears and Timberlake’s well-known coordinated denim getups.) There’s even an unintentionally hilarious disclaimer on the finish that notes the movie options “fictionalized composites,” and a few occasions which have been “compressed, reorganized, or fictionalized for functions of dramatization.” And but, Britney Ever After sticks to a well-known narrative—little (ultimately wealthy) woman misplaced.
That’s completely in line with Spears’ model, a virginal picture cultivated by Larry Rudolph (Peter Benson), her longtime supervisor. It’s what propelled her to the highest and contributed to her downfall, after she purportedly cheated on Timberlake with their choreographer. An inferred determined want for love makes the small-screen Spears do every kind of questionable issues, together with marrying her childhood good friend and permitting a Svengali-like character (Benjamin Arce as Sam Lutfi) into her life. And that’s what makes Britney Ever After a Lifetime film, which isn’t a nasty factor in and of itself. However even the ladies within the community’s typical fare present way more company than Spears does right here.
The film kicks off with Spears poised for stardom, the higher to indicate her supposedly having intercourse for the primary time with Timberlake (on a tour bus, together with her assistant sleeping close by—scandalous!), after which sneak round with him each probability she will get. However that expediency does greater than sacrifice an origin story viewers are in all probability already aware of; it strips Spears of her motivations (except for her marriage-driven ones) and a character. Bassett’s efficiency doesn’t assist; the Australian actress, who was not too long ago seen in Hail, Caesar!, impacts the heaviest Southern accent, which is nothing like Spears’ personal lilting drawl. She additionally wears the identical baffled search for a lot of the film, whether or not she’s falling in love or answering robust questions posed by the documentary makers.
In actual life, Spears was far savvier than the film makes her out to be; she performed together with the good-girl advertising, however was able to intercourse it as much as transfer previous the teenybopper stage of her profession. In Britney Ever After, she’s simply influenced and manipulated, making her profession appear nearly unintended. Spears had some well-documented troubles with overbearing dad and mom, asshole boyfriends/husbands, and regardless of the hell Lutfi was to her. She overcame all of that, and is within the midst of one other comeback, however Libman’s movie treats her as little greater than a pawn or castaway. There’s a halfhearted try at a redemption arc, with Spears’ Piece Of Me-powered comeback slapped on to the ass finish of the movie, presumably to assist viewers neglect all of the struggling Spears endured within the previous two hours. Certainly, by the point the “…Child One Extra Time” singer describes her life as a multi-car pileup, you’ll surprise why it took so lengthy for somebody to invoke that phrase.