Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

Not Rated  |   |  Short, Music  |  30 April 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,877 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 31 critic

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


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Story of the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Karen Carpenter, who became a famous singer before battling anorexia and bulemia.

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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)


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 <>

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Short | Music


Not Rated




Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ranked #45 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time" See more »


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 »


Narrator: The year is 1970, and suddenly the nation finds itself asking the question: what if instead of the riots and assassinations, the protests and the drugs, instead of the angry words and hard rock sounds, we were to hear something soft and smooth, and see something of wholesomeness and easy handed faith? This was the year that put the song onto the charts that made the Carpenters a household word.
See more »


Features All in the Family (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the Best Films Ever
2 September 2004 | by (Glen Cove, New York) – See all my reviews

Squashed by the Carpenter estate this film is all but impossible to see. I think it has less to do with "unauthorized" use of Carpenter songs then the fact that Karen's family comes across as monsters and largely responsible for her death.

Quite simply this film is a kick in the face, a punch to the gut and utterly heartbreaking. Despite the fact that the film is told with "Barbies" this film moves you to tears. We watch as she is manipulated in to performing and pushed ever onward with little or no control of her life. This is cross cut with scenes of the time period and with information about her condition. The entire film is scored with the music of the Carpenters as well as the other hits of the period. You will be moved.

If you want to see great film making or great story telling find this film and see it. 10 out of 10.

Frankly this film should be seen by more people then those dogged enough to search it out since despite the tragedy it could be someone's ray of hope out of the darkness.

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