Private Parts

on March 07, 1997 by Kim Williamson
   Digitally enhanced breasts. Fartman. Minuscule schlongers. Puppet intercourse. D-cup porn starlets. Wet underwear. Woofer sex. Hot lesbo action.
   Since its 1993 publication and long tenure atop the bestseller list, Howard Stern's "Private Parts" biography has been a movie project with a couple of studio homes and more than several scripts. Naysayers of the radio shockjock have prayed the film would never be made. The first bit of bad news for his detractors is that the Rysher production indeed came to fruition at Paramount and now brings the man they love to hate to the silver screen. The second bit of bad news for the I Hate Howards who hit their local multiplexes just for the pleasure of hissing "Private Parts" is that it's such a beguiling movie they will hate themselves in the morning for loving it so much the night before. Assuredly directed by Betty Thomas (who already exhibited a fine touch with offbeat comedy with 1995's "The Brady Bunch") and smoothly adapted by Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko, Stern's bio takes a comically affectionate and almost low-key look back at his life, from his days as a young lad who rarely spoke (thanks to a dad who constantly tells him to shut up) to a day of triumph in 1985, when a Central Park rally is held to celebrate Stern being rated the #1 radio personality in New York City. In between are stops at college, where he seems to have been turned down by every co-ed in sight (even a blind young woman, after touching his face, makes a rapid exeunt); meeting and marrying Alison (a fresh-faced Mary McCormack); early station stops in Westchester and Hartford, where he proves himself a lisping geek on-air; a temporary breakup with Alison (the problem: he bathed with a stripper), followed by a disastrous solo move to Motor City; marital reunion and career breakthrough in D.C.; and his ascension to Gotham's WNBC, where Stern enrages the executive suite by engaging in X-rated radio ribaldry with mike playmates Robin Quivers and Fred Norris (both playing themselves) and leaping in the ratings. Stern brings a warm and amicable nature to the big screen, and he's aided by his supporting cast. Although Quivers isn't quite as comfortable, her repartee with Stern is genuine and fluent; McCormack gives a grounding performance (as the "normal" one onscreen, she stands in for the audience, and her acceptance of Stern validates him); and Paul Giamatti has apoplectic fun with his role as Stern's chief WNBC nemesis, nicknamed "Pig Vomit." "Private Parts" is probably the most genteel movie ever made about puppet intercourse, hot lesbo action et al., and that's why it succeeds as a mainstream entertainment. As a film, "Private Parts" is less successful; when the movie ends with a non-ending, one realizes the story that's been told is haphazard, progressing just like real life, not art; it's more reportage than cinema. And the laughs, while plentiful, don't fill in all the quiet holes where a real narrative would live. Still, the real laugh is Howard's, all the way--as usual--to the bank. Starring Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack, Fred Norris and Paul Giamatti. Directed by Betty Thomas. Written by Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko. Produced by Ivan Reitman. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language, nudity and crude sexual humor. Running time: 109 min.
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