Stephen Hopkins over-praised, made-for-HBO adaptation of Roger Lewis' Sellers biography was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards and draws parallels between the troubled star's chaotic life and the helter-skelter nature of his comedies. Born into a lower middle-class family, Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) basks in the adoration of his henpecked father, Bill (Peter Vaughan), and his ambitious stage mother, Peg (Myriam Margolyes). Though Sellers wowing the television-viewing public on the anarchic Goon Show, the wunderkind has trouble crossing over into movies. Although he marries his understanding sweetheart, Anne (Emily Watson), and starts a family, the immature, temperamental Sellers has been too emotionally warped by his controlling mother to function as a normal adult. Violent outbursts follow his early career frustrations, then serial adultery becomes a perk of stardom and wrecks his marriage. After stealing THE PINK PANTHER (1964) from its stars, the comic genius falls prey to a phony psychic, Maurice Woodruff (Stephen Fry), who takes kick-backs from producers hoping to procure Sellers' services. When he isn’t starring in lucrative but lowbrow films, Sellers makes classic movies like Kubrick’s LOLITA (1962) and DR. STRANGELOVE (1964). Like that other cagey
director, Blake Edwards (John Lithgow), Stanley Kubrick (Stanley Tucci) knows how to manipulate Sellers for his own purposes. After a heart-attack, Sellers becomes less "manageable;" because Peg tried to keep him from spending time with his terminally ill father, Sellers spitefully denies his dying mother's request for a visit. In between sordid affairs and occasional hit movies, the comic genius squeezes in a stormy marriage to professional sexpot Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron). A failure at love, parenthood and friendship, Sellers goes out on a high note with BEING THERE (1979). Complete with asides from the star and an animated title sequence, this unfocused biopic hustles to be clever and different. Though Rush is a brilliant mimic, he can't duplicate Sellers inimitable onscreen impact; Hopkins, Rush and screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus are on surer ground depicting the obsessive actor's offscreen turmoil.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Stephen Hopkins over-praised, made-for-HBO adaptation of Roger Lewis' Sellers biography was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards and draws parallels between the troubled star's chaotic life and the helter-skelter nature of his comedies. Born into a lower middle-cl… (more)