Not that I was expecting much from Lifetime’s latest made for tv movie Liz & Dick, but I feel like the entire project can be summed up with one important detail, the Burtons were known for indulgent lifestyle and in preparation for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Taylor packed on the pounds and struggled afterwards to lose the weight, however, when this time period is dramatized in the movie, no effort is made to simulate Taylor’s weight gain, they just make a point of saying she’s gotten kind of chubby with no visible evidence to back this up. This telling without showing plagues the project and Lohan’s phoned-in portrayal of the legendary screen goddess tells you all you need to know about the future of her comeback.
Lifetime decided to frame the story as being told by Taylor and Burton in heaven set up as if they are giving an interview (with God I guess?). This device adds nothing, as they often just confirm facts the audience should have picked up from the previous scene- after showing their rocky introduction they say they didn’t like each other at first… duh! After Burton refuses to attend the Oscars out of fear of losing again, Taylor says she understood how he felt but worried he was going to miss his change of accepting his award in person… duh! When Burton’s brother becomes paralyzed after falling down their stairs when tending to their house for them, Burton says he always blamed himself for his brother’s injury and eventual death… duh! The entire devise could be removed from the movie and nothing would be different. The story is also oddly paced. They go from disliking each other to being madly in love so quickly, and with so little explanation that I wondered if I passed out momentarily and missed something. Their fights are always anticlimactic and their reconciliations so quick it’s like nothing has happened at all. And while this is supposed to tell the story of their epic love, the reasoning behind their first divorce are so rushed it’s like the two were playing relationship chicken. You come away seeing them as nothing more than spoiled children, who only stayed together as long as they did because Taylor made sure he didn’t make a movie without her for ten years, knowing he would bang whatever actress played opposite him. Some romance!
Everything about Lohan’s performance tells you why her career has struggled so much over the years. This is her big chance at a comeback and she couldn’t even be bothered to maybe watch one or two of Taylor’s films and try to work on an accent. It comes off like she thinks all she has to do is show up in a movie and America will welcome her back with open arms, but if she wants to change her image she needs to do more than play dress up. I felt bad for Grant Bowler who plays Burton and much of the rest of the cast who do their best to try to rise above the poor script and their misguided leading lady. Hopefully these legends will get their story told in a higher quality production and the cast members who tried here are not held back by having this on their resumes.