Indie. Passion. Art. Music.
Let’s not mince words here, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is without a doubt one of the worst made for T.V productions that has ever been made, and easily the worst “biopic” as well. As a fan of both terrible cinema as well the late great songstress, I am torn. On one hand, this film is quickly becoming a cult classic and over the years it will surely dethrone the supreme trainwreck of an autobiographical tale that is Glitter. However, this film is a mockery of the extremely talented and well-loved singer, and it pains me to think there are those out there that will assume this is an accurate representation of who she was. This film managed to create instill in its viewers a potent mix of resentment and train wreck hilarity; you’d have to be soulless to not laugh at certain aspects of this film, so let’s see just how bad this film got.
The poor kid; Alexandra Shipp was just not an effective lead . Throughout the film her characterization of Aaliyah jumped all over the place, and you just get the sense that she wasn’t comfortable in the singer’s skin.The Aaliyah in the film managed to seem both naive, self-assured, indecisive, and for a lack of a more concise word, “like a deer in headlights.” Shipp’s wavering portrayal is a point on contention and was a major distraction; overall, her performance made her character hard to like. However bad Shipp’s performance was, that does not absolve the rest of the supporting cast of their sins upon “celluloid.”Unilaterally, the entire cast bombed .
Casting director is a thankless but important position on any set; you are the first line of defense in the battle of believably and the least likely to get thanked at an awards show, but an effective casting director can set the tone of a film for better or as in this case worse. Which is why this review is brought to you by the letter “M”,as in miscast, and that light can be cast upon anyone and everyone in the film. The most dubious honor of worst portrayal goes to the, tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, duo that is supposedly Missy Elliot and Timbaland. I could comment further, but social media has already has its feeding frenzy and little more than bone is left over.
There is some level of parity in that the story is as insubstantial as everything else, so at least there is some sort of consistency. The “writers” chose to focus mainly on Aaliyah’s relationships and didn’t delve into what made her unique and memorable, instead they told us–literally in some instances– why Aaliyah was amazing. Narratively speaking, they violated Storytelling 101, “show don’t tell;” there was an ever present sense of exposition hovering over everything Aaliyah did in the film . For instance, there is a scene in which Aaliyah’s mother decides she needs to redo Aaliyah’s hair. Her mother essentially explains to her/us how the new hairstyle will make her mysterious and how it resembles Veronica Lake. There is also an odd romanticization of the R.Kelly/Aaliyah alleged marriage; remember, this is a network that makes mariticide–under the context of abuse– a national sport, but in this case glorifies statutory rape.
The song performances are worth noting only insofar as how poorly done they are, so fair warning for those who are curious about the musical situation . On the upswing for bad movie lovers this film is awfully awesome. Some will cringe, but purveyors of garbage know this, you will laugh hard and often; perhaps you could make a drinking game every time someone calls Aaliyah “babygirl.”
With Aaliyah:The Princess of R&B, it’s hard to tell whether Lifetime went for sincerity or dollars. Whatever the case is they not only managed to “swing and miss,” their bat flew out of their hands and hit a Make-A-Wish recipient in his/her ocular cavity. From character, to story, to acting, and everything in between, this was a massive failure. Ultimately this travesty is not without merit, at the very least there is a sense that they wanted to at least try to honor the late great singer, but, as oft quoted in instances such as this, ” the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And if that is the case at least take solace that Aaliyah herself will never see the work.
P.S as much as I dislike R.Kelly the actor that portrayed him looked more like Terrell Owens’ malnourished brother.
P.P.S Let’s Remember Aaliyah as this: