The People Vs. Larry Flynt
Director Milos Forman delivers an effective Free Speech plea
along with an entertaining movie. The film follows the true life story
of Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson), a low class guy who panders
to the baser needs of people in order to make a buck. As a kid,
he and his brother run moonshine, and later they own a string
of strip clubs. After realizing that Playboy and Penthouse magazines
are just too high-brow and not raunchy enough for those who only
want nudie pictures, he launches Hustler magazine. After some
early struggles, including some hilarious ineptness on the
part of the magazine staff, Hustler takes off when Larry lands
some publicity stirring nude photos of Jackie O. Hustler makes
Larry rich, and lands him in court. The film covers several
court battles over obsenity vs. free speech, involving several
recognizable figures, including Charles Keating (James Cromwell)
and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Larry is defended by Alan Isaacman
(Edward Norton), a young lawyer who becomes a lifelong friend.
Meanwhile, Larry gets involved with a stripper named Althea Leisure (Courtney Love), who shares
his naughty spirit. The film covers a wide spread of events
in Larry's life, including his conversion to Christianity, an
assassination attempt, and others. Yet, through it all, the
film manages to hold interest. The People vs. Larry Flynt claims
not to take a pro-pornography stand, but rather a pro-free speech one.
Yet the film revels in Flynt's outrageousness, and derives much
of its humor from the chance to see a naughty boy be naughty and get
away with it. And most of the time it works. Woody Harrelson does
a fine job as the pornography kingpin, exuding impish charm.
Courtney Love does a decent job, surprising only because
this is her first gig as a serious actress. Edward Norton
impresses once again as the lawyer who puts up with Larry's
obnoxious behavior for a larger cause. This film is not for everyone.
Those who have a disliking for Larry Flynt just from reading this review would
be advised not to attend, since the film does celebrate him to an extent.
But the film does present a well written and thought out argument for
the case of free speech, and plenty of humor to boot.
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