Movie Review: Judy

If there was ever a handbook written to instruct someone who chooses a life in the spotlight, either as a famous singer, actor or social media celebrity it would include the realization that having talent is a small part of the equation of being famous. You also need the courage to stand in front of a huge audience and perform. You need very thick skin to ignore the cruel critics and the hecklers. You need to be able to deal with long periods of time when you are not performing and are either traveling to another performance or killing time in yet another bland and depressing Hotel room. You need to handle your finances and never overspend, or worse, never marry the the wrong person or persons and then lose a fortune in a divorce. In the case of Judy Garland, she was married an incredible 5 times.

None of this has ever been easy for anyone who has tried to make it in show business and for Judy Garland, her career started at the very young age of 2. Then she was handed off to the Hollywood studio system when in the 30’s and 40’s, the big studios owned and manipulated all of their actors like they were commodities. With Judy Garland, these same Hollywood executives also hooked her on drugs, that followed her for the rest of her life. After watching the biopic “Judy” starring Rene Zellweger, I remember thinking that just like Whitney Houston, Judy Garland would have been far better off just being an average singer and actor, rather than the global star she eventually became. The reason is, just like Whitney Houston, Judy Garland was not equipped to deal with the stress and the many downsides of being hugely famous. What good is potential fame and fortune, when you die at a young age?

Almost exactly like Whitney Houston, who died of a drug overdose at age 48, Judy Garland died of a drug overdose at age 47 while in the bathroom of a Hotel room. Both of these two tragic deaths at young ages, could have been avoided if there was someone there who cared enough to manage their careers. The other reason is both women married the wrong men, especially in the case of Garland who married Sydney Luft, who then gambled away a good part of her money.

As far as the movie Judy, the only reason to see it is to see the great performance of Rene Zellweger, who is practically a shoe-in for winning the Academy award this year for best actress. I was surprised at the lack of a real story in Judy as most of this film deals with the last few months of Judy Garland’s life and most specifically with her final series of concerts in London England. There are many scenes showing her erratic performances in London, including some where she was drunk and cursed at the audience. The last few years of Garland’s life were the most difficult due to severe money problems that even included being almost homeless with the two children she had with Sydney Luft.

The high ratings for Judy of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes are exclusively about Zellweger’s performance and not about the mostly dull story, and I agree with this rating and recommend this film.