• PG, 2 hr. 9 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Frank Perry
    In Theaters:
    Sep 18, 1981 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jul 17, 2001
  • Paramount Pictures

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Mommie Dearest Reviews

Page 1 of 61
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
This film is the worst kind of exploitation flick possible, and it was taken seriously in production no less! Today billed as a camp classic, and advertised as such once it was discovered for it's ludicrous content, Mommie Dearest is synonymous with bad taste and over-acting. This goes especially for lead Faye Dunaway, who portrays screen legend Joan Crawford. Based off of Crawford's adopted daughter Christina Crawford's tell-all memoir of the same name, most of the film is comprised of scenes showing Crawford abusing her daughter physically and emotionally. The film centers on the tumultuous life of the actress, who suffered from alcoholism and may have also, had a bipolar disorder. Dunaway has complained that director Frank Perry didn't know how to rein in actor's over performing and how true that statement is. Dunaway is out of control throughout, and though many actions are cruel, villainous stages of abuse, at times you feel reviled for watching something so outrageous and unrealistic. It's certainly not laugh out loud funny, because the subject is so horrible and Dunaway does do a decent job of implying the actress' sullen manner. The movie also suffers from the fact that none of the events shown have true credibility, as friends, co-stars, and an ex-husband of the screen legend have argued against the claims of the book. The film itself is very cheap looking, sets and costumes looking second-hand, wigs and backdrops almost painted on. The performances from the children are actually laughable, and the scenes of the beatings often look like a madwoman pummeling a pillow. Bits of this are incoherent and often things aren't explained in a helpful manner, which makes it difficult to piece together the true nature of the film or its content. By the middle I and my boyfriend were betting on what atrocious act would come next. From Joan Crawford's beatings, to her impeccable housekeeping, to wielding a large axe to cut down a sapling, to yelling hoarse over wire hangers, there's just too much awkward tumult for anyone to take this seriously. Actually, one feels bad for the screen siren, her daughter, and Faye Dunaway, who went as far as putting on three hours' worth of makeup to look authentic for this film. (And does) It's just a sad waste, and a bigger waste of time.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

September 29, 2011
A narratively disjointed and episodic adaptation that is basically for those who are curious to know how was Joan Crawford's abusive relationship with her daughter, who wrote the book this film is based on. The exploitative story makes no effort in character development, but Faye Dunaway is great in a histrionic, over-the-top performance.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
A fantastic drama with great actors, and a great story, I loved it, and I highly recommend it.
Jeremy S

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2006
Faye Dunaway is suberb as Joan Crwaford, in this scary and sometimes over the top autobiography. "No wire hangers, ever!"
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

July 2, 2009
Giving this more stars than it deserves just because it's so campy and bad, but SO VERY entertaining.
puffchunk
puffchunk

Super Reviewer

October 25, 2007
When Joan freaked out it was very fun, but there are lots of drawn out sequences that we could have lived without.
dietmountaindew
dietmountaindew

Super Reviewer

November 30, 2007
mommie dearest is one of the classic camps which is so legendarily awful that it could be called "phenomenonal"...lol.

the notorious tales of joan crawford's evil maternality has been widely known already thanks to faye dunaway's overacting in "mommie dearest" that could be considered one of the most successfully excercised disparage ever in cinematic history. it's so malaciously achieved that i must announce that christina crawford herself is evil, draining the essence of the dead from the graveyard of her "adopted mother".

crawford had a reputation of being brittle and hard-boiled to the bone, but she was also a glamour queen before the 50s, just reminiscent the fashion icons she had built with her stylish idiocyncracy, and her husky tone of voice which provokes defying sensuality thru her bold brazen attitudes. obviously none of those advantages is transpired in faye dunaway's caricature of crawford. dunaway's campy performance obliterates every remnant of crawford's beauty in audience's memories. each move she had made in it looks grotesquely clumsy, and her contorted face appear lunaticly horrorsome with each line of her wrinkles over carven in her complexion.

of course, i must complain to the cosmetic apartment about dunaway's crawfordian eyebrows which seems really dramaticly exaggerated just to mock the dated fashion then, but even joan crawford herself didn't look so "twisted"...dunaway attempted to lower her vocal into the low-pitch smoldering smoker sound which was popular sign of glamour for movie stars then, dunaway did nothing but growl like a crude beast. if you view those old crawford flicks, she did have her unique way to deliver those lines with punctured shrewdness.

"mommie dearest" certainly does a good job at defaming joan crawford, further more, it's sinister uglification to a tough surviving woman who exerts herself literarily to her tombstone. but i gotta admit the axe-swaying scene which is blandly stolen from crawford's 50s camp "strait-jacket" is absolutely hilarious. maybe gutsy females are easy targets to attack, even after her demise, you could still snatch her corpse out to whip it, for your private indulgement as well as your angst toward contemporary cultural effemination.
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

August 17, 2007
A hard movie to watch. Joan Crawford was such a monster to her children - she should've been cast from Hollywood. Faye Dunaway does a great performance.
jjnxn
jjnxn

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2007
a freak show from start to finish and totally fascinating
Hawaiianguy2991
Hawaiianguy2991

Super Reviewer

April 1, 2010
Joan Crawford was a monster but Faye Dunaway makes her a monster with a heart...almost. I think this is the best performance of her career, and that's a big compliment since she's starred in three famous films, "Bonnie and Clyde", "Network", and "Chinatown". She won Oscar nominations for all of those films and took home the prize for "Network." Yet "Mommie Dearest" is the breathing baby I see as Dunaway's triumph. The story is set through the memoirs of Christina Crawford, and though Frank Perry's direction is flawed and stagey, the performance by Dunaway seals it up as one of the best camp classics of all time. And heck, who can forget that wire hanger scene, she looked like a crazy nut. Mommie Dearest seems stagey at times but thrives with Dunways fantastic performance.

Story: B
Acting: A
Direction: C
Visuals: B
Overall: B

*** out of 4 stars
merlynsprankling
merlynsprankling

Super Reviewer

January 1, 2008
This is a film about Joan Crawford's relationship with her adopted children. Played by Faye Dunaway in the central role--she looks the 'perfect' star to represent Crawford--square shoulder, the arched eyebrows, the v-shaped mouth, and when Dunaway stares, her eyes are like basilisks.
In Mommie Dearest--the emotions are so splendid, the scenes so dramatic and the experiences so brilliant.
This is a serious film, in no way designed to be deliberately funny and yet with Dunaway's portrayal of a haunted and bitter woman, the film is a comic masterpiece by accident.
Joan Crawford was clearly terrified of failure, and it was this fear that drove her to the kind of bizarre perfectionism and competitiveness which marked her life.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

October 28, 2007
NO WIRE HANGERS . . . EVER!!!!
Any film that was named worst picture of the 1980's is definately worth seeing. The last half is kinda boring, but the first half with the insane meltdowns and way over the top acting are hilarious. The film then tries to take itself too seriously after we have just been bombarded by images of this woman going insane. As for being worst picture of the 1980's, there are far worse films out there, trust me. Well anyway . . .
-"I think your over reacting Miss Crawford.
-"WELL I THINK YOUR UNDER REACTING!!!"
Now that is quality writting.
Sunil J

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2010
To be honest, I really hate this over the top campfest.
Wu C

Super Reviewer

November 8, 2010
Not bad, but not great. If the stories of Joan Crawford as portrayed here are accurate, she was a real heartless woman. Dunaway is great, but she disowned the film after it bombed.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2010
Both sadly terrifying (child abuse to the max) and a cult classic laughfest.
Lee K

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2008
I loved this bio pic to death, A scary and apparently accurate look into Joan Crawford and she abused her daughter. Faye Dunaway was absolutly brilliant in the starring role.
December 23, 2012
It doesn't really deserve 6/10, as the movie doesn't make narrative sense. Success follows crisis without any pattern. At one moment, Joan is in triumph after winning the Oscar for "Mildred Pierce." In the very next scene she goes so berserk we want to scrape her off the screen with a spatula. The scenes don't build, they just happen. Another example: After an especially ugly fight, Joan sends Christina to a convent school. There's a scene where the mother superior welcomes her and promises to reform her. One scene later, Christina checks out of the school, and the nun wishes her godspeed. No mention of what happened in the school, how it affected Christina, or whether the nun changed her opinion of the girl.

The movie makes no attempt to draw psychological insights from the life of its Joan Crawford, not even through the shorthand Freudianism much beloved by Hollywood. Mommie is a monster, that's all, and there's some mention of her unhappy childhood. Christina is a brave, smiling, pretty, long-suffering dope who might inspire more sympathy if she were not directed (in both her childhood and adult versions) to be distant and veiled.

As stated before, it doesn't deserve 6/10, but one cannot deny its entertaining camp value. And Faye Dunaway makes a very formidable villain. NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER!!!!
August 18, 2011
I told a friend today on Flixster (8-18-11) It was awful and so over the top that you just have to laugh. Also I watched it on an obscure cable station Ovation, where TV commercials interrupted every 15 minutes!
booboo2777
August 6, 2011
made me cry... based on a true story... If my mom had beaten me with a clothes hanger she wouldn't be around to tell it ... just saying
MovieQueen79
June 7, 2011
First hour good second hour NOT so GOOD.

NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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