Liz & Dick
9 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime
The Lifetime Original Movie “Liz & Dick” should not be called “Liz & Dick.” It should be renamed “Lindsay Lohan and an Actor Whom You May or May Not Remember as Cooter From ‘True Blood.’ ”
At no point in this unenergetic revisiting of the volatile romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton does it actually feel like you’re watching Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Instead, we get Grant Bowler (Cooter on HBO’s “True Blood”) brooding and boozing as Burton and Lohan whipping through Cleopatra costumes, awards-show evening gowns, mod headbands and, most comically, 1980s era-bouffant wigs like she’s the sole contestant in a Liz Taylor lookalike contest. It’s unconvincing and lifeless but, sadly, not quite laughable enough to rise to the level of enjoyably campy little lark.
None of this is good news for Lohan. For those who haven’t been keeping track of the non-stop TMZ breaking news-a-thon that is the former child star’s life – and truly, it is a full-time job – this pseudo-biopic was supposed to mark her official reinvention.
After many months of probation hearings (she finished probation in March in a DUI case from 2007); run-ins with police; self-defensive tweets; and various other attempts to reinvent her image, “Liz & Dick” was supposed to be the project that pushed Lohan into a much-needed new chapter in her career. Breaking non-TMZ news: It isn’t. If she wanted a comeback, she should have stuck to the genre in which she has demonstrated the most skill: comedy, of the intentional kind.
Lohan has said she can relate to Taylor’s struggles, particularly regarding the news media’s intrusion into her personal dramas. Mere empathy does not a performance make. Lohan, bless her “Freaky Friday” heart, tries her best, bawling and screaming at Bowler with all the ferocity her raspy, ravaged voice will allow. (Also, for the record, she’s really quite good at throwing fragile objects.)
But she lacks Taylor’s majesty and elegance. Even at her messiest, Taylor projected a sophistication and reserve of strength that Lohan simply cannot muster.
All the problems with “Liz & Dick” cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of its stars. The writing is wretched.
“I don’t need a pool,” Dick tells Liz in one of the blissful moments in their early courtship. “I’ve got a whole ocean in you.”
“I don’t loathe you, I hate you,” Liz spits at him in another scene. This all happens before they get married the first time, divorce and then get married and divorce again.
There is one moment in “Liz & Dick,” however, that may elicit some genuine emotion. It happens during a 40th birthday party Burton throws for Taylor. The actress – still looking like a 26-year-old Lindsay Lohan – overhears two guests whispering about how she’s no longer a star. She dashes from the room and curls up like a distraught, dolled-up little girl in her luxuriously large Oscar-winner’s bed.
There, the revered, sometimes mocked and unforgettable Liz Taylor, weeps. “I’m a joke,” she chokes out through her sobs.
All one can see, though, is Lindsay Lohan wearing a fancy gown, pretending to have reached middle age and grieving too soon for a career that once was unquestionably bright.