We gave it a B
Without a doubt, the highlight of The People vs. Larry Flynt: Special Edition is listening to Milos Forman, in a retrospective doc, mimic Hustler publisher Larry Flynt’s smeared Kentucky drawl: The Czech-born director sounds like a backwoods Speak & Spell. It’s when he’s not doing a paralyzed-pornographer impression that Forman gets into trouble. He — like writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski — insists that the smut factory at the center of the controversial biopic was ”a pretext” for discussing much bigger issues, i.e., freedom of expression. Well, dandy. But by setting aside the content of Flynt’s media empire, the filmmakers allow viewers not only to excuse but actually forget what Flynt does for a living — thus sanding off the edges of any ”debate.” Not one feminist voice pipes up — producers managed to snag an interview with Flynt archrival Jerry Falwell, but couldn’t secure Gloria Steinem’s participation. The feminist declined an interview — and the New York Times op-ed piece she wrote excoriating the film is not reprinted alongside Frank Rich’s paean. It’s her loss, and ours: Maybe she could have put the ”vs.” back into a fight that still feels rigged.