The People vs. Larry Flynt Review

by Ben Hoffman (ben DOT hoffman AT bcsbbs DOT com)
December 31st, 1996

    A film review by Ben Hoffman
    Copyright 1996 Ben Hoffman

In undoubtedly one of the best films of 1996, this biopic of Larry Flynt, is astonishingly enough, about the First Amendment to the Constitution. Despite its subject matter, the film is extremely entertaining mainly because of the hero . . . well, not really a hero but the protagonist. One could hardly characterize a crazy (just eccentric?) pornographer as a hero. The beautiful part is that neither the brilliant writers (Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, who did the biopic Ed Wood) as well as Director Milos Forman attempt to gloss over Flynt's faults.

Flynt is played in an Oscar-grade performance by Woody Harrelson, aided and abetted by an underage stripper named Althea (Courtney Love) in a bravura performance, turning from the teenager into a wife and drug addict. There is not a dull moment in the film which despite every kind of nudity (you name it) is never erotic. Sleaze prevails because that is Flynt's thing and Forman never forgets that for a single frame.

For a pornographer to be the catalyst of a fight for free speech that ends in the Supreme Court is ironic and in a way unfortunate. But as that is how it happened in real life it is all the more forceful. This could not have happened without Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton in a most satisfying, enjoyable portrayal of the civil rights lawyer who stuck with Flynt all the way.) Personable, believable, charming, Norton's every moment on the screen was cherished by me.

The film's dialogue was frequently hilarious, always beautifully written. The courtroom scenes, the look-alikes of Charles Keating (James Cromwell) of the Lincoln Savings funds mishandling and Jerry Falwell (Richard Paul) of the Moral Majority was very funny. Also in the cast are the real James Carville who forged Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, Brett Harrelson (Woody's real-life brother) as brother Jimmy Flynt, Donna Hanover as ex- President Jimmy Carter's evangelist sister who gets Larry to accept Jesus and become a born-again Christian. When he gives up on that phase of his life, Althea proclaims "Porn Again."

This movie has everything: great acting, drama, nudity, and much humor. What else do you want? Run to the nearest theater that is showing it.

    Directed by Milos Forman

4 Bytes

4 Bytes = Superb
3 Bytes = Too good to miss
2 Bytes = Average
1 Byte = Save your money

Ben Hoffman

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