Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 14, 2017)
If you told me in 1999 that come August 2017, I’d watch a biopic about Britney Spears, I’d have scoffed. Heck, if you’d told me in January 2017 that come August 2017, I’d watch a biopic about Britney Spears, I’d have scoffed then, too.
And yet – here I am! A Lifetime movie, Britney Ever After opens in 2008, as Britney Spears (Natasha Bassett) participates in a documentary meant to promote her comeback effort.
From there Ever After hops back to 1998 to show Britney’s early days as a recording artist. Britney goes on tour as the opening act for ‘N Sync and deals with pressures from family and management to be a perfect pop star.
From there, the film follows Britney’s rise to massive stardom and problems that occur along the way. These include her tumultuous romantic life as well as her 2007 mental breakdown.
Here’s what you won’t find in Ever After: a single song popularized by Britney Spears. We get “Britney-sounding” takes on covers such as the Stones’ “Satisfaction”, but we never hear snippets of anything we’d view as a Britney hit.
Apparently the filmmakers thought they’d handle this in a clever way with a comment from Britney. In an early scene, she says “We don’t really need to talk about ‘Baby One More Time”, do we? I mean, everyone’s heard the song.”
Yes, we have, but that doesn’t mean Ever After shouldn’t use actual Britney music. I get it: this is an unauthorized biopic, so even if the producers could afford the rights to Britney’s songs – which they probably couldn’t – it’s unlikely that they could’ve gotten the tunes anyway. The absence of those hits remains a major hole at the core of the movie, though.
Not that Ever After cares about Britney’s musical career, though, as it aspires to be a soap opera version of her life, one that concentrates almost entirely on her personal domains. We never sense much about Britney’s rise to fame or other aspects of her work, as we instead just see her as a girl in love – or out of love, or in a mood for love.
Hoo boy, does Ever After cast Britney as a lovestruck goon – with an emphasis on the goony side. At no point does the movie’s Britney threaten to turn into a realistic, believable human being, as the film pushes a one-dimensional view of her as a woman obsessed with love and relationships.
Is that true about the real Spears? Perhaps, but I have to believe she had a little more interest in her career than we sense from Ever After. The cinematic Britney seems utterly unconcerned with anything but boys, boys, boys, and that theme gets old in a hurry.
It doesn’t help that Ever After sticks poor Britney with one laughable line after another. “I guess I just want what everyone wants: love!” “I gave you everything you asked for – everything! All I wanted was for you to love me back!” “We all deserve to be happy!”
And on and on, all delivered with rabid urgency from a cute but utterly untalented Bassett. She bears a reasonable resemblance to Spears but couldn’t act her way out of the proverbial paper bag.
Bassett plays Britney as an over-caffeinated gerbil, and this means she gives the character no range. When Spears enters her mental meltdown stage, we sense no difference because Bassett makes Britney a wild-eyed freak from the very start.
I can’t claim I expected much from Ever After, but even with rock-bottom hopes, the movie falls short. This isn’t even entertaining in a “so bad it’s good” way - Ever After offers amateurish, idiotic cheese.