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Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

 -  Short | Music  -  30 April 1988 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,724 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 28 critic

Karen Carpenter's battle with anorexia nervosa and the cultural influence of the Carpenters in the 70s.

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Title: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Merrill Gruver ...
Karen (voice)
Michael Edwards ...
Richard (voice)
Melissa Brown ...
Mother (voice)
...
Dad / Mr. A&M (voice)
Nannie Doyle ...
Cherry Boone (voice)
Cynthia Schneider ...
Dionne Warwick (voice)
Larry Kole ...
Announcer (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joanne Barrett
Gwen Kraus ...
Narrator (voice)
Michelle Manenti
Moira McCarty
...
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)
Celia Pearce
...
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)
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Storyline

Karen and Richard Carpenter are young musicians living with their parents in Downey, California. Richard shows great promise as a songwriter and Karen, who plays drums, begins to sing vocals, thrusting the duo into stardom. They become wildly successful, Karen's striking voice and Richard's soft melodies capturing the essence of the nation's yearning for calm after the turbulent Sixties. But Karen strives for perfection and becomes increasingly fearful of her weight, despite being a slender woman. Eventually she is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a mental disease relating to stress, lack of control, and low self-esteem. A fight for Karen's life ensues. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie is a biography of Karen Carpenter with a slight twist - all of the parts are played out by Ken and Barbie style dolls. See more »

Goofs

In the opening sequence, a crew member can be glimpsed at the end of the hallway as the camera rounds the corner on its way into Karen's bedroom. See more »

Quotes

Richard: Karen, why are you doing this?
Karen: I was constipated.
Richard: Oh, you liar!
Karen: Don't tell mom and dad, Richard.
Richard: Why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't I tell them? You are ruining my life!
Karen: If you do, I'll tell them about you and your "private" life.
Richard: You say one word to them, one fucking word...
See more »

Connections

Features The Poseidon Adventure (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A remarkable movie.
18 July 2006 | by (Bronx, New York) – See all my reviews

Thanks to its legal status, "Superstar" is a true piece of underground cinema, and one of the best of its kind. Here in the era of "South Park" the idea of a drama about the Karen Carpenter tragedy acted out by Ken and Barbie sounds like a crass joke, and yet Haynes treats the material with extraordinary assurance. The dolls evoke not only the cultural issue of female body-image but a not-entirely vanished society -- Nixon's "Silent Majority," with its suffocating aesthetic and tight-lipped insecurity -- and the strange sound the Carpenters constituted within it: wholesome, sweetly naive songs delivered in Karen's deft, sultry/ melancholy voice. It was an odd enough voice to be coming from the real Carpenter, and here, juxtaposed with the wide-eyed, increasingly skeletal "Karen" doll, the effect is spooky and shockingly poignant. To what degree the treatment is fair to the Carpenter family is unclear, but as a film it makes an interesting companion piece to Haynes' extraordinary "Safe" and stands on its own as a superb pop-art elegy and a genuine outlaw triumph.


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