The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) Poster

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Unusual, audacious film
SKG-213 September 1999
As Larry Flynt is hardly the usual type of person you think of when you think of the word "hero," it's fitting that this biopic opts not for the standard approach, but to make an offbeat comedy(as writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski did in their screenplay for ED WOOD and the upcoming MAN ON THE MOON, about controversial comedian Andy Kaufman). You may not like him(and one of two faults I had with this film was I think the filmmakers lionized him a little too much), but certainly any society which calls itself free needs to make room for him. Harrelson does a good job in the title role, but the real force for me came from Courtney Love, in an astonishing performance as Flynt's wife, and Edward Norton, one of the best new talents, as Flynt's reluctant lawyer.

Besides that it does lionize Flynt a little too much, there is one problem I had, though. If you believe the film, all of Flynt's opposition came from right-wing blowhards like Charles Keating and Jerry Falwell. Certainly, they did have the most publicized tussles with him. But to ignore the problems he had with feminists makes it rather limited. I don't agree with Gloria Steinhem's contention that the film ignores his depraved side, but I think the film would have been more interesting if it had addressed the opposition he had from both the left and the right. Still, this is a terrific and important film to remind us what freedom really is.
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Larry Flynt, Great American
great_sphinx_4214 March 1999
I went into this one fully expecting to like the heck out of it, and I wasn't disappointed. No one had to convince me the message was a valid one, but I still thought I'd drop a line to say that I thought it was a very well done movie. It shows how a right that is supposedly near and dear to us all is often skewed in favor of mollycoddling lots of hypocrites who has the ridiculous audacity to think they have the right and the obligation to tell the rest of the world what to think of as moral or immoral. I loved the scene where Woody Harrelson, who does an absolutely bang-up job, gives a speech about how explicit depictions of death, murder, and war are considered appropriate while sex is considered filthy. "Sex or war" indeed. The more of Harrelson I see, the more my respect for his work grows. I must also mention Courtney Love, who is terrific as Althea. Great movie, I thought. Most of the people who don't like it are probably also the very ones it portrays as being the "bad guys"-the religious right, of course. Larry Flynt may not be admirable in the type of lifestyle he and Althea lived, and his magazine is, to my mind, entirely repugnant. But if Larry and Althea truly had the sort of relationship portrayed they loved each other beyond all reason, and what he did makes him a great patriot. How many people would do what he did in defense of such an idealistic belief? Not all people who do great things for great reasons are great people.
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Very good autobiographical drama
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews27 February 2004
Before watching this movie, I had nearly no idea who Larry Flynt was. I read a quick summary a few minutes before watching it, but I hardly knew any specific details. After watching it, I know exactly who he is, and what he stands for. He stands for freedom of speech. Some might call him a pervert. Others call him a patriot. I believe he is the latter. While I don't know the exact story of Larry Flynt from any other sources than this movie, I don't know if it's completely accurate. The plot is great, for a biographic piece, the acting is superb, by most actors, especially the three main characters. Most of the cinematography fits the movie perfectly. The only thing that bothered me a little, was there was relatively little information about why Larry Flynt did what he did, believed what he believed so strongly. I sympathized with his character in several scenes, but I never fully understood him. The director should have had at least a few more emotional scenes with Larry, to explain his actions better. Overall, a very good drama. Recommendable to most fans of the genre, as long as they can stand what the movie shows them. If you have an open mind, you're not too easily offended and you're into autobiographical dramas, this is a good film to watch. 8/10
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Not Your Typical Patriot.
tfrizzell8 July 2004
Idealized biography of Hustler magazine mogul Larry Flynt (played superbly by Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson) which finally ends up focusing on his legal battles to publish his pornography via the free speech laws of this land. Along the way he marries a bisexual wild woman (Courtney Love) who shares his unconventional views on free love, priced pornography and drug abuse. The character also survives an assassin's bullet, paralysis, imprisonment, endless court battles against the Reverend Jerry Falwell and even his own destructive nature. Edward Norton (a relative newcomer when this was released) shines as Harrelson's young attorney who tries to overlook and overcome his client's tirades. Director Milos Forman (Oscar-nominated) does a good job creating a cinematic story about a man who is hard for most in mainstream society to understand or relate to. Flynt is humanized and so are those who cross his path throughout the picture. The movie is not as wild and crazed as one would think. Instead Forman uses well-timed comedy with drama to get the major points across effectively. Overall one of the better films of 1996. 4 stars out of 5.
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One of the best films of the Year
Quinoa198412 September 2000
Oscar Winning Milos Forman's The People Vs. Larry Flynt is a fascinating (if not too trashy) look at how without the first amendment, people like Flynt would not exist. We see an expose on the man, myth and legend of master porno publisher Larry Flynt (played to damn close perfection by Oscar nominated Woody Harrelson) who releases Hustler (in my opinion the best porno mag ever, but that's just me) and gets severe backlash from censors, church people and just people in general. But, we see his struggle to fight back at any cost (even his legs) to send a message- just because you don't like doesn't mean you can't let me publish what I want. Forman directs this pumped drama with 5-star performances from Harrelson, Love (as the tragedy queen girlfriend) and Especially Norton (as the suffering yet compelling lawyer). Never ashamed and always On the edge, this film has a place not only in film history, but in Hustler magazine's also. The real Flynt appears as a Cinncinatti judge and Norm MacDonald appears as a reporter. A+
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Shocking Expose
Khaled Yafi-012 June 2000
Anyone familiar with Milos Forman's work will know how much he likes to discuss and examine controversial real-life characters and make them the focal point of his films. Amadeus for one was a powerful expose of the legendary composer; Forman was able to extraordinarily add so much spice to the script that the end result was a harrowing documentation that genuinely moved us. We didn't need to know anything about the composer or even like his work or personality; Forman craves on these sorts of challenges. He likes to make films about characters that the audience may not identify with because it heightens the overall achivement if the film is a hit. With Larry Flynt he's done it again.

Flynt is the story of Porn magazine chairman larry Flynt who amidst an era of overwhelming decadance launched Hustler magazine, a porn magazine that broke all taboos and crossed all boundaries. The magazine was a huge hit that transformed Flynt into a powerful figure in the American Community. Needless to say though, Flynt (superbly played by Harrelson) faces insurmountable odds from everyone to keep the business running. Politicians, reverends, mass public opposition Flynt is accompanied along the way by his junkie wife (played with real panache by Courtney Love) and a reluctant lawyer (dependable performance from Edward Norton Jr.). At the midway point of the film Flynt is shot and paralyzed and consequently the fight to stay on top is made even more challenging.

This story is intriguing because is dares to break universal taboo's. It shows Flynt disassociating himself from the norms and traditions of society and really willing to take genuine risks that could blow up in his face. Before Hustler was formed, Playboy was the porno pioneer. Playboy was subtle in it's nudity, preferring to call itself a REAL magazine rather than something trashy. We notice that Playboy was afraid to overstep the barrier. Playboy was a magazine that was restricted in it's disclosure of barenaked ladies because of the shape of society at the time and the values the society had come to embrace. To call yourself a porno magazine was unthinkable with unthinkable consequences! Hustler dared to step over those lines and bear all the consequences. Flynt was not necessarily a likeable man but he cannot not be admired. He was a risk taker, an enterpeneur, a man with a vision, and a man who believed that oe should act on one's desires and ambitions.

The mass hysteria the swamps the society as a consequence mainfests how powerful yet dangerous a little "acting on ambition" can bring. Flynt's idea is impossible to resist; the public cannot stay away from the controversial impact of the magazine. As the fan base grows, so does Flynt's empire, and so do the forces determined to suppress him. Flynt's meteoric rise is unprecedented, and made all the more shocking by the fact that the evnets are real. His opposition ranges from hypocritical politicians to dubious religious figures, all of whom are hell-bent on the abolition of Flynt and his tremendous reach.

The film earns huge plaudits on the entertainment level. This is undisputed!! The acting demonstartes tremendous range from all involved and Flynt is an offensive yet endearing, and very funny figure. We grow to really love and root for him as the film develops. The points that necessitate discussion however are the legal and moral issues that are debated by Flynt, his lawyer, and the opposition. The freedom of press, of speech, and the freedom to exercise your FREEDOM are all fiercely debated. Flynt vehemently defends his position because he feels that the world is afraid to agree with him, that the world is afraid to speak out. The world is polluted by hypocrits; he's the only pure seed. This presents tremendous irony because Flynt is a low-class pervert up against scholars, and politicians, and bureaucrats, and yet he's claiming that he's the real deal and they are all phonies. He has a point; what's the point in looking presentable and being well-educated if you are banal, hollow, and insipid and cannot open your mind to new ideas?? The film asks that question; we see how closed off the men in power are to Flynt's ideas and we grow to hate them. Then we are torn because we are reluctant to accept the values of a porn fiend. The fact that we cannot resist Flynt's pulling power is the sign of the film's success. We start off opposing Flynt, unable to identify. Then we try and take a neutral stand as we discover the ugliness of Flynt's opponents. Finally, after Flynt is paralyzed and yet continues to defend his honour, we can no longer resist the seduction.

The film has Flynt giving amazing speeches about why he is doing justice to himself and the people. He's giving them what they want,they are taking it,and yet they are determined to censor him. He debates this point to manifest the outstanding hypocrisy that lies at the heart of society. Flynt is such an important character because he speaks for all of us. On countless occasions, we all seek to expose the two-faced ugliness of those around us. We just can't because not enough people are listening. Flynt however gets eveyone's attention and defends his honour, preserves his integrity, and succeeds in winning over the justice system. The final speech given by Issacman, his lawyer is very insightful and very powerful for it argues this very point: 'We don't need to like what Larry Flynt does, but we should like and appreciate the fact that we have the right to make that decision on our own, and that's what makes our society great. We have the right to accept or reject the offer on hand. We may well reject it but we and we alone need to have the choice made available to us. If that right is taken away, then we wither away as a people and our individuality is nullified' The speech is amazing because it demonstrates how the right to accept a porn fiend and his work preserves the democracy of the Western World. Truly Shocking but brilliant!!!

I haven't discussed the other characters all that much and I'm not going to except say this: All the characters are multi-dimensional because what we see on the outside is never what we get on the inside. Flynt for all his crude, perverted behaviour is an admirable, likeable, highly identifiable personality. His wife, for all her vulgarity and drug addiction is an endearing, loyal,intelligent personality. Issacman, the lawyer, for all his traditional, stiff boring work ethic, is an idealistic, shrewd, and deeply committed man....The list goes on and on

I loved this movie because our hero is not perfect; he's anything but!!! Movies that depict the hero as a flawed individual stand a better chance of being embraced by critics and audiences alike. Flynt thrives on this! And exposing hypocrits for their true selves is every cynics (and I happen to be a huge one) dream. Flynt's journey is whopping emotional tour de force!!!! You don't have to like Larry Flynt as a film, but I love the fact that I had the right to make up my own mind!! Society, you ignore that at your peril!!!
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best ensemble cast in years
fionapeters22 April 2006
it is unfortunate that when one thinks of the movie 'people vs. larry flynt' the first person to come to mind is courtney love. not that she does an less then stellar job, rather by focusing solely on her, the rest of the richly deserving cast are overlooked. woody harrelson is genius as larry flynt. despite my liberal leanings, before seeing this movie i had made peace with the fact the flynt was a scum, but i would support him on the basis of free speech. after seeing this movie i was able to gain insight into the parts of his character which make him whole person. instead of seeing what Christian-right zealots, or bleeding heart liberals, tried to force upon me, i saw the entire man and all he brought with him. granted this was shown primarily thru scenes written and directed by milos forman, however, it is harrelson who brings them to life and convinces me of their sincerity.
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The rise and fall of a (sex)god
philip_vanderveken6 December 2004
"The People vs. Larry Flynt" is already 8 years old, and the subject it talks about is even older, but it still hasn't lost anything of it's relevance. This isn't a movie about Larry Flynt, the porn king. It's more a movie about the right to say what you want to say, without having to think of every person's opinion first.

You may not like the man or what he stands for, but at least he has the guts to stand up for what he believes in. He defends his right to speak freely and doesn't mind kicking against the shins of the ultra conservative Christians. In a way today's America needs more people like him instead of acting like a bunch of sheep being brought to the slaughterhouse by their government...

The acting in the movie is very good, but especially Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt and Edward Norton as his lawyer were excellent. Courtney Love isn't really an actress, but still did a good job (not that hard to do when you play a role that you are quite familiar with in your own life.)

All in all this is a very enjoyable movie that will be loved by some and hated by many. Personally I liked it and I give it a 7.5/10
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Career milestone for Woody Harrelson & Courtney Love
george.schmidt16 April 2003
THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (1996) **** Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton, James Carville, James Cromwell, Richard Paul, Crispin Glover, Vincent Schiavelli, Miles Chapin, Brett Harrelson, Donna Hanover, Norm MacDonald. Superb biographical account of smut publisher Larry Flynt (portrayed by Best Actor nominee Harrelson in arguably the role of his career) whose bouts with the courts regarding libel, pornography and ultimately first amendment rights to the freedom of speech are captured like a tempest in a teacup that depicts the rise and near fall of Flynt (who was paralyzed in an assassination attempt) and the uncomparable love affair with his doomed yet dedicated wife, bisexual, drug-addicted and tragically AIDS afflicted wife Althea Leasure (Love in a toweringly brilliant turn at acting that deserves all the recognition she mustered) who stood by her man as she withered away. Funny, insightful, important and some masterful filmmaking overall thanks largely to the cleverly constructed screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ("Ed Wood"), costumes by Theodore Pistek and Arianne Phillips, and all too believeable production design by Patricia von Brandenstein. And yes that is real-life Flynt as one of the judges passing sentence and yes it is real-life brother Brett of Woody playing siblings. Kudos to Best Director nominee Milos Forman (who was sorely passed over in the Best Picture nomination as well as practically getting shut out come to mention it) for pulling off a difficult hat trick: making scum respectable.
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Edward Norton Is the True Star of This Biopic
evanston_dad16 June 2009
Two-time Academy Award winning director Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Amadeus") won his third nomination for directing this biopic about the infamous creator of "Hustler" magazine.

Woody Harrelson, also Oscar nominated, plays Flynt while rocker turned actress Courtney Love plays the long-suffering wife that apparently every biopic must have. Love received a ton of attention for this film, and most people expected her to be recognized by the Academy, but she was one of two singers turned actresses that year (Madonna being the other for "Evita") to receive tremendous awards buzz and then come up empty handed on nomination morning.

Though Harrelson and Love received all the attention, it's the then-fairly-unknown Edward Norton who steals this show as Flynt's committed attorney.

Grade: B
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The power of the 1st Amendment
DerekTheCritic20 May 2013
Courtney Love is the worst part of this movie. She's terrible, hard to stomach, and can't act to save her life. THAT SAID....

This is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and it really makes you think about what it means to live in the USA. For those of you out there reading this review who do not live in the USA, you've no doubt heard about how we Americans like to pride ourselves for being so freaking awesome... until someone points out how backwards and self-absorbed we really are. That's not to say Americans are bad (quite the contrary), but we definitely have a problem admitting when we're wrong. This movie makes no apologies, and goes straight for the jugular. And thanks to Milos Foreman, and Larry Flynt himself, this movie asks us to consider just how fundamental the right of free speech, and the freedom of expression, is to society. And yes, it relates to hardcore porn.

Without delving too much into the technical aspects of the movie, let me just say that if you watch the Edward Norton courtroom scenes (the first where Larry Flynt himself is the judge, and the last one when he's arguing to the Supreme Court), and the epic speech our protagonist gives on "sex versus death," you are going to start developing opinions. It is going to make you think, and it might challenge your comfort zone. And for all those reasons, this movie is worth every moment of your time... including those painful scenes involving Courtney Love.

I still think about this movie sometimes, whenever I hear people arguing about their First Amendment rights. Larry Flynt might not be a knight in shining armor, so to speak, but what he stands for is more than just porn - it's freedom of expression, and Americans have to accept that that doesn't necessarily mean something tame or conservative. It's an important lesson, and a movie that should not be missed.
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The Finest Biopic Till Date.....
namashi_131 December 2009
Larry Flynt is surely a cult figure, he believed in expressing thoughts, he made America a better place, in a way. Hustler Magazine, agreed it's damn explicit, but it's sells... and has made Fylnt a bloody rich man.

While watching 'The People VS Larry Flynt', I was stunned by the way the biopic has been executed by legendary filmmaker Miloš Forman. A highly-entertaining, highly-intriguing & a highly-gripping film. This film shows us the rise & rise of Larry Fylnt, the man who believed in doing what your heart says. An incredible film!

'The People VS Larry Fylnt' is a film that leaves behind a lot of questions? Example, Fylnt says that WAR is more homely a talk than SEX... Now that's something!

SEX is something that everyone wants, but when it's shown on TV or in a Movie or in a Magazine, everyone seems to be getting uncomfortable? Fylnt knew what he was doing... and he proved right after all the Court-Cases, and despite being a paralyzed man. 'The People VS Larry Fylnt' is a must watch film.... because it shows a man who did what he had to despite everything that happened to him.

Woody Harrelson's performance as Larry Fylnt is exemplary. Any compliment won't do justice his portrayal. Courtney Love is fabulous as Fylnt's lady love. Edward Norton is fantastic as Flynt's lawyer. Larry Fylnt who makes a brief appearance as a judge, is perfect.

'The People VS Larry Fylnt' cannot be missed by anyone... watch the amazing life of a man amazing man right now! Two Big Thumbs Up!
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Sexual acting out posing as sexual freedom
CHendri88728 June 2001
We sometimes have trouble in our patri(matri)archal political and social structures thinking outside of dualisms. For example, if a person is shamed and repressed by the archy, it often seems like the only way to freedom is through rebellion. Thus, in movies like "The People Versus Larry Flynt" and "Quills" we get sexual acting out, sexual excess and sexual abuse presented as sexual freedom. The archy loves this: It needs an "enemy" to continue thriving. The archy creates the conditions for rebellion to thrive. The archy also secretly likes to glorify this "rebellion." So, in movies like "The People" and "Quills", we also get stories glorifying pornography in such a way that strips it of its true ugliness and tragedy. These movies make pornography seem "cool." "The People" operates on the premise (even if it is supposed to be done with humor) that Larry Flynt, our flawed "hero," is standing up to sexually repressive American Christian Fundamentalists such as Jerry Fallwell. Flynt does this by exploiting and victimzing young women who are victims of the very system he is supposedly trying to "liberate" everyone from. I am all for more openness and less shame in the handling of sexual matters on a mass cultural level, but I do not see pornography and the exploitation of women's bodies as the best means of doing this. On the contrary, pornography is merely the flip side of sexual repression: It is sex seen as "dirty", tainted with the stink of patri(matri)archal shame. Hopefully, in time, we can all move beyond such dualistic ways of thinking and realize that true freedom lies in respecting everyone's needs and values from the time they are brought into this world and not getting lost in this eternal game of repress-rebel that has been responsible for so many of our world's ills over the last two thousand years. Long live empathy and compassion!
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Free Speech Matters
rorschach_dc4 March 2015
This is a great film that portrays the United States Government's attack on free speech rights, in the form of it's attempts in prosecuting Mr. Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine. Obviously Mr. Flynt is not someone most people would admire, and the film doesn't attempt to portray him as an angel by any means. What the film does portray is that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution was put in place to preserve our natural rights of freedom of speech. Any speech - as Ron Paul has stated, "The First Amendment was not put in place to protect our rights to talk about the weather." Mr. Flynt was jailed for publishing a magazine the government found to be indecent. Fortunately, for the preservation of Americans' rights, Mr. Flynt fought for his rights. When speech such as Larry Flynt's is protected, all of our speech is protected.

Milos Forman does an outstanding job of direction, and Woody Harreson's performance was definitely worthy of it's Oscar nomination. Courtney Love is excellent as well, although you have to wonder how much of her performance was "acting", and how much was just Courtney Love being Courtney Love. Ed Norton as per usual puts in a stellar performance, playing Larry Flynt's abused lawyer. This film has consistently been in my top 10 favorites list not only for it's message, but it's entertainment value as well. It receives my highest possible recommendation.
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Not my world, but I support it
riznap22 November 2005
I saw this movie for the first time in fall of 2005 when I was given a copy of it from Jimmy Flynt. I am a Christian, I work for the church, and I have been a mission worked in a third world country. That being said, I must also say that I cringed many times during this movie. I do not live with blinders on, but this movie made me feel like I do. That was the biggest shock of anything for me.

I completely support Jimmy and Larry for standing up for their rights and for what they believe in. I don't know Larry, but I find Jimmy to be very much like his character in the movie. It was fun seeing the movie "after" I had become friends with Jimmy. He's a wonderful man, very kind, and very down to earth. You would not think this about him by knowing only his reputation (name).

This was not a movie I would have ever made an effort to see, but was very happy that I did. Like it or not, freedom of speech is why our country is the best country in the world!!
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As with anything, including this movie...if you don't like it, stay away from it!
gilligan196521 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I could never understand why so many people can be so pompous and arrogant as to actually believe that their own personal opinions upon things that they don't like should supersede the opinions of those who like them; and, deprive the latter of such things!?!?

This movie shows how people who are uptight, rich, pious, power-hungry, and/or flat-out crooked can manipulate the system and trample the basic rights of others; and, the rights of those who are new entrepreneurs of things these headhunters don't like, as Larry Flynt was. The same thing happened to Preston Tucker for building a better car than The Big Three - Chevrolet, Ford, and, Dodge; and, to Francis Ford Coppola for starting his own movie studio. The rich and powerful keep everyone else in check!

Pornography really isn't my bag...neither is rap music; psycho-slasher movies; and, other things...hominy grits...but, I'd never be so smug as to actually start a petition to ban any of them because "I" don't like them!?!? It's not important to me to do so. Nor, would I write any negative reviews about them on IMDb or anywhere else. I simply stay away from them; change the channel; etc! I cannot believe the time that people waste writing long and tiresome reviews on IMDb about movies that they don't like - how boring can their negative lives possibly be? I only write reviews about movies (and, other things) that I like...and, I "LIKE" this movie.

This movie is about much more than the right to sell and distribute, and, buy and enjoy pornography; it's about the right to have free choice, free speech, and, name a few.

The decision that the supreme court made at the end of this movie was one of great importance because it upheld the First Amendment; and, discarded the frivolous opinions of thin-skinned people who are offended by things that don't concern them. If you don't like it, avoid it! That crook, Charles Keating, should have avoided this, and, Playboy Magazine, altogether, for his own good; but, for everyone else, it was a blessing and a victory! It showed what kind of person he 'really' is, and, what he did later. He puts all of his power and energy into banning pornography...then, becomes the central figure in the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal that cost American taxpayers over 2 billion dollars!?!? 'These' are the kinds of 'smut peddlers' (crooked people in government) who not only manipulate the system, but, run it!?!? 'They're' the people to watch out for!

As to the movie itself, Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, and, Edward Norton are fabulous in their acting...especially Harrelson and Love in the courtrooms!!! Even Larry Flynt, the 'real' Larry Flynt, plays Judge Morrissey of the Cincinnati Court who sentenced Larry Flynt to twenty-five years...priceless contradictory acting! Kudos to Larry Flynt! :)

As I wrote before, I, personally don't look at pornography, nor, do I think it's 'dirty,' but, I have nothing against it either (why would I...I love the female form and I love sexual encounters with it); but, if someone wants to buy 'adult' pornography, they have that right to do so.

As far as sex goes, Woody Allen inadvertently protected and supported Larry Flynt in an unknowing way by answering the question "Is sex dirty?" by replying..."Only when it's being done right."

This is a monumental movie that 'should' show people that if you 'stick-to-your-guns' and 'fight for what you believe in,' maybe, just maybe, you'll win; and, by winning, you'll help others enjoy something that some other powerful and socially-boring and intellectually-retarded stuffed-shirt prima-donna tried to ban.

If it doesn't hurt anyone, it should be legal!
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Forman Kinda Misses the Point
martin_g_karlsson18 February 2006
Larry Flynt beat and divorced several wives. His daughter has accused him of sexual abuse. 'Hustler' is a sexist, often misogynistic magazine, that has published violent porn and romanticizes rape and violence against women.

Formans film however, portrays a man who is, in his own way, a loving and devoted person. An entrepreneur of sexual liberation, who publishes dirty, but quaint, nudie-pictures.

I think that Formans beautification of the life and deed of Larry Flynt does damage to the point he seems to be trying to make. The point is that freedom of speech is precisely for the views that we do not like. So why does Forman then go out of his way to make Flynt into a likable, albeit quirky, guy? This entirely misses the point.

Why couldn't Forman show Flynt as well as the Christian right, both, as the reactionaries that they are? Perhaps from the perspective of the lawyer - Nortons character? Is that really too much to ask? I know this is Hollywood but...

Formans own sexism may enter into this. The scenes at Flynts strip club shows a boss, Flynt, who has sex with his employees, the strippers, but the film never makes an inkling to reflect on the unequal power relations or exploitation. Instead all we get to see are always willing and happy women, eager to satisfy and serve men. In Formans 'Man on the Moon', prostitution is, in a smaller scene, also depicted as something harmless, quaint and fun.

'The People vs. Larry Flynt' is well-made though, and Harrelson, Norton and Courtney Love are entertaining to watch, though their characters sometimes tend to become caricatures. The story is told with a nice drive to it. And the film does make a certain, but as said above, quite shallow point about freedom of speech.
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what is everyone thinking?
cutshaw-218 June 2000
This is a movie about first amendment rights? Okay, I guess if you consider Son In Law a film about farming then it could be. Anyone who's even glanced at a copy of Hustler knows that girls showing their "you-know-whats" is not the only thing that's offensive about it. The magazine is filled with racist and sexist cartoons and jokes that the movie conveniently never mentioned. Also, I'm not a big Jerry Falwell fan, but could they have villified this guy any more? What is the movie saying? If you are a reprehensible human being you deserve to be made fun of? They play the sympathy card enough with Flint (who had sex with a chicken, "not that there's anything wrong with that") that you consider him the hero and never truly question "Should he be allowed to do that?" This movie is just a white wash of Flint's questionable actions during his prolific career filled with melodrama and devoid of meaning.

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a mixed biography for one of the kings of pornography
dbdumonteil19 July 2004
A Czech director who emigrated in the USA in the seventies, Milos Forman, these last years specialized in biographies: "Larry Flynt" (1996) and he was to shot "Man on the Moon" three years later about the life of the comedian Andy Kaufman. After a seven year absence (his last movie was "Valmont" in 1989), "Larry Flynt" was released in 1996 and we all have in our minds the poster because it caused a scandal. Larry Flynt, one of the kings of pornography depicted as a crucified Christ on the string of a woman! After I watched this movie which relates the chaotic career of this man against the establishment, it left me a bitter taste, in a major part caused by the script.

It is not a matter of chance if Forman hired Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski as the scriptwriters. Both concocted the screenplay of the delicious "Ed Wood" (1994) one of Tim Burton's peaks in his work. So to write the script of "Larry Flynt", they used the same methods as "Ed Wood"'s: to relate his life as precisely as possible. If it had wonderfully worked in Burton's movie, here the mayonnaise isn't thickening for Forman's movie. I think that it is due to a difference of personality with the two quoted characters. Indeed, Ed Wood was an eternal loser but the scriptwriters had made him endearing. Moreover, Johnny Depp had rendered his personality in a convincing way. As for Larry Flynt, he was a winner although he has had trouble with the law and he built a real empire based on a vulgar exploitation of the woman body. At once, we deal with an ambitious but hateful character. Woody Harrelson's efforts to make him nice are ineffective, either in dramatic moments (Flynt's wife who commits suicide) either in funny sequences (Flynt's excess in court). Besides these last sequences aren't even funny in the way Harrelson goes over the top.

As a result, the movie loses a lot of its appeal and you just glance through it. By way of consolation, we can save Courtney Love who for her real first role in screen offers a decent and sometimes harrowing performance. There's also a decent performance from Edward Norton but he will find the role of his life three years later in "Fight Club".

A mixed biography which shows that the presence of two excellent scriptwriters in a film doesn't always contribute to its success.
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An Idealised Account of a Not-So-Ideal Man!
akash_sebastian19 July 2013
Milos Forman's biographic drama, though a little dragging and momentumless towards the middle, is a well-made movie, with incredible acting to steer it through.

The movie misses the point, and tries to portray Mr.Larry Flynt as such a likable honest man. Larry Flynt, who had countless number of wives and divorces, whose ex-wives claim he was a beater, whose own daughter accused him of sexual abuse, who disowned his own daughter, whose magazines are a bit too sexist... is idealized a bit too much in the movie. But for what purpose? Why not show him the way he is? The whole point is to concentrate on the importance of the first amendment; no matter what kind of person it is, and what he/she is trying to express, the amendment gives them the freedom to do so. If the story was told from the neutral point of view of the lawyer (played by Edward Norton), with the magazines and the religious institutions on either side, it would have made a more compelling point.

The acting is top-notch, and the only thin which holds the movie together. Woody Harrelson is a delight to watch, and Courtney Love is surprisingly good in her acting. Mr. Nortan does a charming supporting role.
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Frustrating film fails to build emotion...
moonspinner5529 July 2006
Chronicle of magazine publisher Larry Flynt, a self-described "scum" who challenged Playboy in the 1970s with his nudie rag, Hustler. Woody Harrelson gives a surprisingly solid, excellent performance as Flynt, Courtney Love is fine as his drug-addicted wife, Edward Norton terrific as Flynt's attorney, yet the script doesn't give the actors nor the audience much to go on. Director Milos Forman doesn't observe this story with any irony, his big scenes aren't built up or shaped by the smaller, more intimate ones, and the wayward final act isn't as moving or tender as it's meant to be. Worth-seeing for the brave performances, though it is a picture lacking in dimensions. **1/2 from ****
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A little too long but fascinating
preppy-318 September 2010
Movie about Larry Flynt--publisher of "Hustler" magazine. He's played by Woody Harrelson and it follows him from 1972 to the 1980s and deals with him defending his magazine against obscenity charges. It also details his wife Althea (Courtney Love) and their relationship.

I've heard this movie was an idealized version of the true story but I knew nothing about Flynt before I saw this movie so I saw it with no preconceptions. It's episodic but compelling. Harrelson is GREAT in the title role. He does not turn Flynt into a saint--he's portrayed as obnoxious, controlling and a real jerk at times. However he does make it clear that "Hustler" should not be banned or considered obscene and he makes his case well. Most of it is through his lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) who's very good in his role. But top acting honors go to Love who is just incredible as Althea. You see her character very convincingly age during the movie and you see her love and frustration with Flynt. Just a great performance which was totally ignored at the Academy Awards. Also it was great to see great character actors like Crispin Glover, Vincent Schiavelli and James Cromwell in small roles. It was well-directed by Milos Forman and shows the decades it takes place in very well. (There's fantastic use of the 1970s song "Dream Weaver") It's just a little bit overlong. The multiple court sequences get repetitious by hammering the same concepts to us again and again. Also it gets VERY depressing during it's last hour or so. Still, I found it fascinating and compelling. You may not like Flynt or his magazine but it makes a good case for admiring him for what he was fighting for. I give it an 8.
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broadfoot23 April 2002
I admit I enjoyed this movie because it tells an interesting story of one man's fight for free speech. Nonetheless, it doesn't make Larry Flynt a hero in any way. In Canada, we get a version of Hustler that's quite different from the U.S. version. We can't sell the U.S. version here because it's considered too obscene. As a devoted Catholic, I'm against pornography in all its forms.

For example, wouldn't you be shocked if you looked at a cartoon in a 1976 edition of Hustler that shows a Santa Claus with an extremely large penis?

Larry, if you ever come to Canada, don't expect us to roll out the welcome mat for you!
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A fascinating period piece with a standout performance from Woody Harrelson
sme_no_densetsu11 September 2016
Milos Forman's "The People vs. Larry Flynt" tells the true story of how Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt unwittingly became a crusader for freedom of speech. Beginning in the early 1970's, the movie follows Flynt as he builds a porn empire with his racy alternative to Playboy. Of course, pushing the boundaries of good taste has a tendency to ruffle some people's feathers, so he quickly (and frequently) finds himself involved in various legal wranglings. Defending his business interests, he stands his ground on the premise of freedom of speech.

Thankfully, the Golden Globe-winning screenplay doesn't paint Flynt as a selfless crusader for human rights. He straddles the grey area between hero & anti-hero and the script doesn't go out of its way to sway you one way or the other. The premise is fascinating on its own but further colour is added by way of delving into other areas of Flynt's life.

Portraying Flynt is Woody Harrelson in his first Oscar-nominated performance. He carries the movie, creating a portrayal that makes Flynt likable as a character, regardless of what you think of his profession. Courntney Love also got a fair amount of attention as Flynt's wife but I'm not completely sold on her presence here. More memorable, in my mind, is Edward Norton in an early role as Flynt's long-suffering lawyer. The supporting cast is generally reliable as well, including Harrelson's brother Brett as Larry's younger brother Jimmy.

Milos Forman's direction is top notch, as expected. He received an Oscar nomination and took home a Golden Globe for his efforts. The movie has an attractive look that is vividly brought to life with attention to detail in the period-specific costumes & sets. Some period-specific soundtrack selections further enhanced the movie's feel.

All in all, "The People vs. Larry Flynt" is a fascinating portrait of a man of dubious morals who ended up fighting for the free speech of all Americans. With fine direction and acting thrown into the mix, the movie is a unique, entertaining tale of a true rebel, though one that is unlikely to appeal to all tastes due to the risqué subject matter.
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Why I love movie biographies
marcusman4825 September 2008
The genre of the movie biography is often marked (or marred) by hero worship, historical inaccuracy, and more clichés than one can tolerate. Usually, a director has a specific reason for selecting a project about a particular person. Biopics are usually about heroes, or at least about misunderstood good people. When such a picture is attempted about a villain or ne'er-do-well, a very fine tightrope must be walked between whitewashing and playing it safe with a politically correct hatchet job.

With THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, director Milos Forman treads that tightrope with confidence. His protagonist is a man whom millions have condemned as a vile pornographer and character assassin. Telling any kind of story from the perspective of Larry Flynt or anyone like him is dangerous. But Forman is careful to be thoroughly analytical in his examination of Flynt's life. He does not try to lick the publisher's boots, but simply presents him as he was (albeit in a heightened fashion). Forman's Flynt is a man whose ambition, bad temper, and appetite for anarchy get him into a lot of trouble; at the same time, he is not devoid of relatable human feeling.

Almost as if to parody Abraham Lincoln's beginnings, Forman first shows Flynt as a Kentucky youth living in a log cabin. Eager to get ahead in life, he haphazardly concocts his own moonshine and peddles it to local drunks. A few decades later, his fortunes have improved somewhat: he now operates a low-rent, semi-successful burlesque house in downtown Cincinnati. But far from being content with making enough money to live comfortably, Flynt is on the cusp of unleashing on the world his own redneck manifesto. Condemning Playboy as an elitist publication, he vows to create a men's magazine that values the beer-drinker over the martini-drinker. The result is Hustler - which, far from being just another girlie magazine, vents Flynt's class anger by lashing out in vicious mockery of a world that he and his clients never made.

As his recreational tastes begin to run to the abstract, Flynt becomes increasingly outspoken about his supposed relevance as a spokesman for First Amendment rights. When his magazine is banned in some cities, this confirmed hedonist transforms into something of a pagan pulpit-pounder. His barnstorming eventually brings him into contact with a more traditional kind of pulpit-pounder: Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. Under pretense of jesting, Flynt low-blows Reverend Falwell with an obscene and slanderous ad parody. The stage is now set for a somewhat farcical battle of wills that manages to mount high enough to reach the Supreme Court.

Whether you admire Flynt or not, it is easy to take away from Forman's movie the basic message that his rights as a publisher were just as precious as anyone else's. Problem is, Larry seeks not just vindication but domination: he is hell-bent on testing the very limits of constitutional license and public tolerance, repeatedly daring an uptight world to silence him. His megalomania causes him to be far more concerned about all the free publicity his magazine receives from the controversy than with anything as elevated as constitutional freedoms. Woody Harrelson must be commended for capturing with aplomb the audacity of a man whose circus-like antics masked a ruthless determination to hype and exploit himself no less sordidly than any of the naked women in his magazine. That this man has become an icon for the rights of American democracy and capitalism is a bitter irony for many to stomach, but it is no less true because of that.

The real-life figures portrayed in this movie are rendered without compromise and with an eye toward objectivity; Forman resists the urge to place anyone on a pedestal or drag anyone through the mud. Harrelson convincingly brings to life a colorful and imaginative man who gradually becomes emboldened, then intoxicated, and finally consumed by his petty sense of self-importance. And Jerry Falwell, far from being demonized, is portrayed with great tact and understanding; that he sometimes comes across as a glad-hander may not always be bearable, but it is believable.

THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT reminds me of why I so enjoy modern Hollywood biographical films. They are always about figures who live their lives to the fullest, often with complete disregard for the consequences. Larry Flynt inhabits a world that is totally his own, and he will not rest until every inch of that internal experience has been projected onto the outside world in all its tawdry glory. "I turned the whole world into a tabloid!" he exults at one point. Watching it all on a screen, safely quarantined by the passage of time and by ironic distance, it is hard not to share in that exhilaration.
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