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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 1,764 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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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

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Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Version of The Karen Carpenter Story (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
banning the film only made it more famous
6 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's a certain brilliance behind the idea of using Barbie dolls to recount the story of singer Karen Carpenter, and the exchange of one plastic all-American icon with another results in an oddly respectful (if suitably macabre) show-biz biography, flirting at times with campy irreverence without ever becoming vulgar. By reducing Carpenter's tragic life to dollhouse proportions the film transforms it into a miniature image of the American Dream gone sour, carrying all the morbid fascination of a tabloid celebrity exposé. But this isn't a memorial to (or a mockery of) the singer's life and musical career; it's an artfully made, near-satirical reflection of how numb and destructive American values had become during the 1970s.

I was lucky to catch a rare theatrical screening (at the York Theater in San Francisco) in the summer of 1988, three years before the film was banned for its unauthorized use of copyrighted music.


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