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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

Narrator: What happened? Why at the age of 32 was this smooth voiced girl from Downey, California, who led a raucous nation smoothly into the 70s, found dead in her parents' home? Let's go back, back to Southern California where Karen and Richard grew up. Back to the home in Downey where their parents still live today.
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

Philadelphia Freedom
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Performed by Elton John
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sublimely Brilliant and Subversive
7 September 2004 | by addisonmaSee all my reviews

Unexplainably brilliant. You have to see it to believe it, really.

Understandably suppressed by Richard--I won't spoil it for you--it is at turns hiariously bitchy, grotesque, tender, and cruel. At the same time, it elevates the subject matter, leaving this viewer with a much deeper sense of appreciation for the Karen. I laughed at them, and it made my like both of them more.

The story is dramatized through carefully and minutely constructed sets populated by Barbie dolls clothed in carefully crafted period clothes. Karen's descent into anorexia is represented through whittling down the face and arms of the Barbie doll that portrays her, which has an effect both hilarious and disturbing.

All in all, it feels so much like a "real" documentary, I can't tell you that it isn't. It's treatment of the subject of annorexia and it's effect on Karen's life is at once silly and serious.

I saw it on DVD. The box had next to nothing printed on it. It was obviously bootlegged from somewhere, but the print I saw had good quality audio and visual.


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