DVD Review: Britney Ever After

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Those who missed Britney Ever After when it aired on the Lifetime Network earlier in 2017 can catch up now that it's on DVD via Lionsgate (August 15, 2017 as a Wal-Mart excusive; October 17 otherwise). The 88-minute feature, directed by TV veteran Leslie Libman, is difficult to recommend on any level. If it's a Spears biography you want, seek out the MTV documentary Britney: For the Record. And there are lots of concert videos for anyone wanting to see the superstar in her prime. Britney Ever After, which attempts to compensate for its lack of substance by presenting a pointlessly shuffled timeline of events, isn't even bad enough to be a guilty pleasure.

Australian actress Natasha Bassett (Hail, Caesar!) gamely tries to evoke Spears' various public personas but she's hampered first and foremost by a lack of physical resemblance. It's her eyes, mostly. In over-sized sunglasses, while flashing a broad, toothy smile, Bassett almost brings to mind (if you kind of squint a little) the real thing. But otherwise she just isn't pulling it off (at times looking more like a young Lisa Kudrow). And her lanky, angular physique just can't complete with Spears in her impeccably-toned prime. 
 
rsz_britney_ever_after_2.jpg Maybe Bassett can dance, but that's hard to say based on the paltry number of performance scenes in Britney Ever After. The showcase sequences of most effective musician biopics are, after all, the ones featuring recreations of the artist's best work. Because of licensing issues (apparently Spears herself wasn't on-board with this project, unsurprisingly), there are no Britney classics anywhere to be heard. Libman seems skittish to even mention the iconic hits ("Do we really have to talk about '...Baby One More Time?'," our leading lady asks a journalist at one point, before quickly moving on to another topic). All we get are karaoke-style re-recordings of cover songs recorded by Spears (bizarrely excluding "My Prerogative").

Structured around a documentary film crew following around Spears, her family (Nicole Oliver plays Brit's mom Lynne), Justin Timberlake (Nathan Keyes, looking nothing like JT but at least evoking his voice and persona quite effectively), Kevin Federline (Clayton Chitty), and various other associates, Britney Ever After strikes out from a narrative standpoint. Especially divorced from all the music that soundtracked the late-'90s and early-00's for an entire generation, the incoherent storytelling fails to outline even the most basic telling of Spears' career. And it focuses (probably predictably) on the tabloid-trash side of Spears' story, unfairly portraying her as downright clueless most of the time.

Lionsgate's DVD is a bare-bones affair. The movie itself (framed at 1.78:1) looks and sounds (Dolby Digital 5.1) fine, if unremarkable. But there are no special features here (save for a few promotional trailers for other Lifetime biopics, including the lackluster but comparatively good biopic Aaliyah: The Princess Of R&B).

 
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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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