As NBC's hit sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" proves a long-running hit for a network desperately in need of one, its young stars: Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, and Dana Plato face all sorts of trouble off-camera. Gary battles with his parents over the management of his salary, Todd runs into trouble with the law countless times, and Dana's career after the show meets with despair and tragedy. Written by
I must admit every single one of these so-called "Behind The Camera" or "What Really Happened" movies about former sitcoms is like a train wreck. You know it will be bad. However you cannot help but keep watching and it is very hard to leave or turn off in this case, especially if you are big fan of the series. Whether it be "Mork & Mindy" or "Three's Company", every one of these movies has followed the same pattern: bad acting, cheesy dialog, actors who look or act nothing like the original stars, and story lines which make almost everyone look selfish or difficult. You can basically just watch the "E!True Hollywood Story" and get the same information but what fun would it be without the above-mentioned flaws.
So when the hundredth re-enactment of the "Diff'rent Strokes" story aired on NBC, it was no surprise that it resembled all of the previous TV movies. It was also no surprise that, being a big fan of the sitcom, I was unable to change the channel.
It starts out from the beginning of the sitcom and spans to the present day with interviews from Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman who were most likely consultants on the project. The bad acting and cheesy dialog right away became evident as most of the actors were unknowns and it was obvious that Quentin Tarentino was not in charge of the script. The scene where security guard Gary Coleman punched the lady who asked him for an autograph was a classic in cheesy scenes.
True to form, the actors really did not resemble the original cast members. The only one that bore somewhat of a resemblance to the actors was Dana Plato. The actor who played Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain) looked like him but you could tell he was wearing tons of makeup. The guy who played the grown-up Gary Coleman was the absolute worst. Other than being short and black, he had nothing in common with the original actor or the other two actors who played Coleman in the movie. They should have just gotten Gary Coleman himself to play the role.
Finally, the storyline made just about everyone look bad. The people that looked the worst were the parents of the sitcom stars. Dana Plato's mother was an unfit parent who put drugs and sex ahead of her daughter. Todd Bridge's father was abusive and estranged from him and his mom. Gary Coleman's dad looked the worst of anyone in the movie, which is saying a lot. He forced Gary to continue with the show when he was really sick, took Gary's money, fought with the producers, made a scene almost everywhere he went, etc. Next, the producers of the show were just a step below the parents. They only seemed to care about the show and how much money they could make off it and did not give a damn about troubled stars whose lives were spiraling downward. I remember a scene where someone tells Gary Coleman that there are no friends in the acting business just professional acquaintances.
The stars themselves came out looking bad, albeit victims of mistreatment and bad parenting. Gary Coleman was portrayed as a bitter and ungrateful child actor who was always feuding with the producers, his parents and other stars of the show. They could have probably added another hour solely based on his relationship with his estranged wife and subsequent death at age 42. Todd Bridges and Dana Plato came across as washed-up actors who were given chance after chance to clean up their act and still could not. One surprising thing to come out of the movie was that they were carrying on an affair (something you wouldn't have gotten from the "E! True Hollywood Story"). The only person who came out looking good in the movie was Conrad Bain who seemed to genuinely care about the three stars.
Watching a movie is all about expectations. If you watch a movie expecting the next "Godfather", you're probably going to grade it much tougher and be disappointed. However, with this movie I don't think anyone expected a five-star masterpiece. While this movie is not good by the standards that a lot of movies are: plot, acting, dialog, etc. It is good in the fact that it meets people expectations and is entertaining to watch.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?