PRIVATE PARTS, 1997
Directed by Betty Thomas
Cast: Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack, Fred Norris, Paul Giamatti, Jackie Martling, Carol Alt, Allison Janney
Review by Jarred Thomas
The film tells the story of Howard Stern, the popular radio personality whose candor and crude humor revolutionized radio.
One of the most controversial disc jockeys of all time, Howard Stern revolutionized radio for the masses and created a radio show that all other personalities try to emulate but fail in their attempts. The film is based on the popular book of the same name and chronicles the career of Howard from his childhood to high school and college to his early days in radio eventually leading to his radical career in broadcasting.
Love him or hate, Howard Stern is truly an entertainer and Private Parts shows not only his eccentric persona but also the struggles and challenges he faced from all angles. Whether it was local bullies or vindictive program directors, every obstacle was essential in developing the personality that would later become an iconic radio star.
Howard Stern plays, who else, but Howard Stern and while that may seem like an easy task considering he’s only playing himself, it’s not. He has to be able to convey his emotions and dramatic moment convincingly, no matter if he’s retelling an experience he went through. It still requires that he present a believable moment and this requires good acting, which he does.
Betty Thomas does an excellent job balancing the crude humor with the more heavy scenes. The supporting cast does a fine job as well. Paul Giamatti is great as spiteful program director, Lenny, or “pig vomit” as Howard refers to him. Together their scenes are absolute gold as both Howard and Paul play off each other perfectly.
There’s a memorable scene in which Paul addresses Howard and his gang (Robin and Fred) about the seven dirty words they are not allowed to say. This of course only entices Howard, who later develops a segment in which he says those exact words but in the context of a game show so as to make it seem innocent and appropriate for radio listeners.
Those who are familiar with the Howard Stern show can expect the typical naked sexy women and certain bits that are popular on his radio program. But there is also a heart to the film that provides warm moments between Howard and his wife Alison, played by the talented Mary McCormack. There’s one intense scene in particular that felt completely real as the two argue about a bit Howard did on the radio about a recent miscarriage the two suffered.
Howard has always made it clear that nothing in his life is private and he can at anytime use parts of his life to entertain his audience. The issue of the miscarriage is one of them. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes and the method to his madness.
With a strong supporting cast topped off with standout performances from both Howard Stern and Paul Giamatti, Private Parts is one of the funniest films filled with an abundance of pure entertainment. Even if you’re not a fan of the popular radio personality, I can assure you that this move will have you laughing and sympathizing with the famous disc jockey. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of who Howard Stern is as a personality, but more importantly as a person.