DVD review: 'Wishful Drinking'
Long before Brad Pitt dumped Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie, 1950s crooner Eddie Fisher played a similar game of matrimonial musical chairs between stars Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. And from that fan-mag scandal, actress-writer-neurotic-raconteur Carrie Fisher finds much wry irony for her dishy, one-woman stage show, “Wishful Drinking.”
The nakedly funny, boldly confessional show touches on her celebrity parents (Fisher and Reynolds), her “Star Wars” fame as Princess Leia, her own dysfunctional romances and her drug and alcohol struggles – all material drawn from her 2008 autobiographical book of the same title. It had a successful run on Broadway, toured across the country, became a popular HBO special and now has been captured on DVD.
Documentary directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “Inside Deep Throat”) don’t do anything fancy in bringing the live show to the screen. They add a few film clips and some archival photographs, but otherwise they simply set up cameras and recorded Fisher onstage during a summer 2010 performance in South Orange, N.J.
During its Broadway run, “Wishful Drinking” gained a certain delicious déjà vu dimension from playing at the space once occupied by the notorious Studio 54, where Fisher noted that she often “got high” in her drug-addled heyday. Maybe a lost opportunity for the DVD, but Fisher’s a trouper whatever venue she’s playing.
“If my life wasn’t funny, it would be true … and that is just completely unacceptable,” Fisher says early in her gossipy monologue. And she proceeds to explain how her odd celebrity childhood helped shape a life of oversized drama that seems drawn straight from the “Abnormal Psychology textbook.”
Padding around a living-room set stage, sipping iced tea and employing rear-projection film clips and odd props, Fisher’s show is essentially an hour and a half of her telling tales about Hollywood absurdity and outrageousness. She’s a natural storyteller (hence her ample credits as a novelist, screenwriter and in-demand script doctor) and an acerbic wit who could have slipped easily into a chair around the famed Algonquin Round Table, perhaps across from Dorothy Parker.
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