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JUDY Review – Zellweger Shines Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Judy review — Renée Zellweger’s performance as the troubled Judy Garland far surpasses the rest of the film.

Judy ReviewIt’s an age-old sob-story: Hollywood chews up child actors and spits them out as broken adults. Judy Garland (Darci Shaw) was no exception, but she did have more talent than most. She was already a box office draw for nine years when she became a true celebrity via The Wizard of Oz.

We meet her in Judy at age 16, playing little girl Dorothy and therefore can’t be curvy—MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) puts her on a strict diet of water and insults until she’s reduced to nearly nothing.

Cut to 30 years later, when 47-year-old Judy (Renée Zellweger) is a showbiz legend with little to show for it. The only thing that matters to her is her children, but she cannot afford to support them financially or emotionally. Nevertheless, she will do anything to get them back from her scheming ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell), even if that means going overseas to London to perform in a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town.

But it turns out Judy can’t outrun her demons and eventually succumbs to drink and despair.

Sounds like fun, huh? Well, Judy isn’t exactly as upbeat as Garland’s own iconic songs, but it’s not quite as dark as it could be. We see several sides of the battered star. She’s tough and she’s funny, she’s kind and caring, and she’s also her own worst enemy. Zellweger does a beautiful job of capturing the real Judy’s nervous, hummingbird energy as well as the contrast of her bone-weary exhaustion. We feel Judy’s optimism when she gets married for the fifth time, to the 10-years-younger Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), then we witness her tragic spiral when the audience boos her for being a drunken diva.

Zellweger does her part, but the rest of the cast is reduced to sketches which don’t add much context to Judy’s actions. The movie is well-shot, but the direction is clunky. The song and dance numbers are good (Zellweger does her own singing), but not spectacular. While I’ll admit Judy strikes some poignant chords, I can’t say it’s worth the price of admission on the big screen for anyone other than Old Hollywood buffs.

Does this Judy review make you want to go over the rainbow to see it? Get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Rated PG-13
1 hour 58 minutes

Judy review — Renée Zellweger’s performance as the troubled Judy Garland far surpasses the rest of the film.

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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