The People Vs. Larry Flynt
Porn, satire, and freedom of speech, these are the three things that took Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson), from moon-shine seller, to strip-club over, to eventually, publisher of the ‘specialist magazine’, Hustler.
Though, do not think that Larry’s rise to fame was an easy feet by any stretch of the imagination, oh no. He had to innovate the existing pornographic market, and then show the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth... and I do mean ‘hole’ (if you get my drift), hint, hint!
Now accompanying Larry on his rather bold journey, is his stripper / sweetheart, Althea Leasure (Courtney Love), and his brother, Jimmy (Brett Harrelson) too. Both of them witnessing his highs and his lows, mainly due to Larry’s shenanigans in the courtroom.
Well, you see, whenever Larry has a run in with the law, he and his activist-layer, Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) try their best to defend Larry any which way they can. For example, when Larry is charged of pornography and aiding organised crime - Alan manages to shun the ‘organised crime’ charge, whilst Larry's big mouth gets him sentenced to eighteen years in prison.
And do you know what? Five months later when Larry is free as a bird, his big mouth is at it again. He holds public rallies on the freedom of speech. He defends the sale of his publication at a convenience store. And strangest of all, he becomes acquainted with Jimmy Carter's Christian activist sister, Ruth, which prompts him to turn both himself and his magazine towards a more biblical slant.
Ha! May the good Lord have mercy on Larry's soul for that one, especially after he gets shot whilst coming out of a courtroom for defending him magazine from yet another bodacious scandal. Worst stil, is due to this incident, Larry looses the use of his legs, his faith, his sanity, and the next five years of his life, because he spends most of it with Althea in the confines of his own house.
Five years later though, Larry is back to cause more legal lunacy, and this time it involves the FBI, a scandalous tape, plus the famous evangelical minister, Jerry Falwell. Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires is right pain in the constitution I can tell you. As a spout of lunacy leads to a death in the family - a very ripe peach leads to the freedom of speech - and the littlest glint leads to the empire called Flynt.
Not the end.
Now 'The People Vs Larry Flynt' is what I would call a really great film. It has it all! It has a story, a character portrait, an arc, and an overall morality tale concerning freedom of speech – although it is filtered through the pornographic mind of our pal Larry.
Granted, as a pretext goes, is it rather overtly structured on a conceptual level, dividing itself up into three separate acts in a rather repetitive way. Act 1: Larry’s rise of fame, and then fall from grace in a courtroom hearing. Act 2: Larry rises once more, only to end with a, BANG! Act 3: Reverses the trend, and we see Larry fly straight into trouble and come out on top.
Please note, this is not necessarily a bad thing overall, as life can sometimes be very repetitive, especially for very stubborn person. However, the only thing that does hinder this film slightly, is that the fractured though line is not always complete - not everything is resolved - and not everything is highlighted. For example: (1) The sub-story arc relating to the men behind Larry’s eventful life is sparse. (2) There is no resolution to the FBI tape fiasco. (3) Larry’s parents show up, and then disappear again very quickly. And (4) How does Larry keep getting out of jail?
Please note again, within the bigger picture, this slight flaw does not hinder 'The People Vs Larry Flynt' either, it is just a statement of fact within the confines of this particular story. Like these facts: (1) The real Larry Flynt plays one of the judges in this movie, his eighties Hollywood mansion appears in it as well, and in addition to this, Larry Flynt's real life doctor and bodyguard appear in this flick too. (2) Within one of the scenes, Hustler magazine offers a one million dollar reward for bringing JFK's killers to justice. In real life, the father of acting brothers, Woody and Brett Harrelson, has long been suspected by conspiracy theorists to be involved with this assassination. (3) Both Tom Hanks and Billy Murray were considered to play Larry Flynt. Plus Larry Flynt wanted Ashley Judd to play Althea, and Michael Douglas to play him. (4) Alan Issacmans closing statement was recounted in verbatim by Edward Norton, Alan was not Larry's first layer though. (5) Courtney Love had quite a lot of external interference upon this film. Her insurance premiums were so high that the studio would not pay them. She had to undergo annual drug tests so that the director, Milos Forman, knew that she was clean throughout this flick. And Courtney was arrested several times in Tennessee whist she was 'in character', because the police thought that she was a criminal. And (6) Larry Flynt got married again not so long after this film was made.
Oh! On a side note. The naked flesh throughout this film can deter some people at times. But for me, I have to say that I have seen worse, right Larry?
THE RATING: A