By Adam Carlson
May 06, 2013 at 04:00 PM EDT
Michael Lavine/Lifetime

Dear Mom Love Cher

For Mother’s Day, Lifetime is celebrating the most important mama of all: Georgia Holt, who gave us Cher. The result is Dear Mom, Love Cher, a candid, if blithely rose-colored documentary. There are great revelations: Mama Cher can sing! Mama Cher almost aborted baby Cher!

Writer-director P. David Ebersole gathers Cher (billed as a producer and “creator”), her sister Georganne, and Georgia all together on a massive Malibu couch that anchors the hour. We keep coming back to it, with mom in the middle, as she and her daughters spill out more and more details about the family’s extended, hardscrabble history. Once, the family matriarch dreamed of Georgia’s grandfather coming “down in little pieces” from the sky (she was psychic, you see) and the next day, he blew himself up with dynamite. “I think we can walk the narrow razor of white trash only so long,” Cher worries — and we still haven’t heard about Georgia’s father.

The rest of the time is spent on biographical brushes, both big and small: Again, Georgia was a singer, then Georgia was a wife (many times over), then Georgia was a mom. Cher was a teenager and then Cher was a singer, and then Cher was famous. And then Georgia became a singer again. If the narrative is slight — the climax is essentially “Cher’s Mother’s Day Present is Better Than Yours” — it’s powered by real material. Mama Cher can really sing! (Seriously: There are multiple musical cutaways built around her strong, sandpaper-warm voice; and a doc-ending duet between mother and daughter on “I’m Just Your Yesterday” that needs no other description.)

In no time, Georgia Holt emerges as — or is transformed into — a fun, flaky figure, equal parts downhome and camp, who passed along the superstardom gene to her daughter. As Cher’s son Chaz says near the beginning, “That’s kind of the thing that I’m always telling people: ‘No, you don’t get it. My grandma is still hot.'”

Who knew she was also so much fun? The biggest crime is too much dish and too little detail. B

Dear Mom, Love Cher premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.

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Dear Mom Love Cher

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