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Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

Not Rated | | Short, Biography, Drama | 30 April 1988 (USA)
Karen Carpenter's battle with anorexia nervosa and the cultural influence of the Carpenters in the 70s.

Director:

Todd Haynes
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Merrill Gruver Merrill Gruver ... Karen (voice)
Michael Edwards ... Richard (voice)
Melissa Brown Melissa Brown ... Mother (voice)
Rob LaBelle ... Dad / Mr. A&M (voice)
Nannie Doyle Nannie Doyle ... Cherry Boone (voice)
Cynthia Schneider Cynthia Schneider ... Dionne Warwick (voice)
Larry Kole Larry Kole ... Announcer (voice)
Gwen Kraus Gwen Kraus ... Narrator (voice)
Bruce Tuthill Bruce Tuthill ... Narrator (voice)
Joanne Barnett Joanne Barnett ... Herself - Singer
Todd Haynes ... (voice)
Moira McCarty Moira McCarty ... (voice)
Laurie Stone Laurie Stone ... (voice)
Michelle Manenti Michelle Manenti ... (voice)
Celia Pearce Celia Pearce ... (voice)
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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


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Iced Tea Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

The same scene of Karen in the hospital is used for Karen in her bed at home when her mother calls. See more »

Quotes

Karen: Where am I?
Mother: You're in the hospital, Dear.
Richard: You collapsed on stage.
Dad: From exhaustion and malnutrition.
Mother: You'll be here five more days.
Dad: Then home for plenty of rest.
Richard: You're going to be under Mom's constant care.
Mother: I'll cook for you.
Richard: She's gonna fatten you up. NO-MORE-DIETING.
Dad: No more laxatives.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no ending credits, the film ends after shots of newspaper headlines detailing Karen Carpenter's death. See more »

Connections

Features I Dream of Jeannie (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Performed by Elton John and Kiki Dee
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A great, if currently illegal, short film.
19 September 1998 | by androxSee all my reviews

A marvelous film made by Todd Haynes, a Brown University student at the time, later the director of "Poison" and the brilliant, hypnotic "Safe" (1995), "Superstar" details the rise and fall of Karen Carpenter entirely through an inspired formal devise: Carpenter, her brother Richard, family, and friends are all "portrayed" by Barbie dolls. The film is not merely about fame or anorexia (the disease of which Carpenter died), but conjures the suburban California of the 1970's, indeed the whole plastic experience of America and American pop culture (of which, of course, The Carpenters and Barbie dolls are most certainly a part). The sincere lite-rock of The Carpenters is juxtaposed with the emptiness and powerful sorrow of these "people"; the film isn't merely a satire--it's deeply touching in a way that many "human stories" fail to be. Upon its appearance, the film became a minor cause celebre in hip, arty New York circles; unfortunately, when Richard Carpenter, proprietor of The Carpenters' music (who doesn't exactly come across as a hero in the film), got wind of it, he called his lawyers. The fact of the matter is that Haynes and his producers never cleared the use of the music--the film was never intended to be shown for profit. Simply, though, there is no film without the music. The still-standing cease-and-desist order prevents the film from being distributed in any form; I saw a third- or fourth-generation copy on video, and it was still better than virtually anything I saw that year. "Superstar" is worth seeking out; it's genuinely (and I rarely use this word) inspiring.


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