Based on true events, Star 80 follows Mariel Hemingway’s Dorothy Stratten as she falls for a sleazy hustler named Paul Snider (Eric Roberts) and eventually agrees to pose for Playboy – with the movie subsequently detailing Paul’s efforts at turning Dorothy into a star and, eventually, preventing her from moving on with somebody else. It’s a fairly straightforward premise that’s employed to pedestrian and mostly uninvolving effect by filmmaker Bob Fosse, as the director, working from his own screenplay, delivers a rather run-of-the-mill biopic that admittedly benefits quite substantially from Hemingway and Roberts’ stellar work – with, especially, the latter crawling into the skin of his almost impossible skeevy figure to an often hypnotic extent. The problem is, however, that the movie’s narrative contains few elements to keep one’s interest piqued, as the exceedingly (and excessively) deliberate pace is compounded by Fosse’s intriguing yet wrong-headed decision to place the focus mostly on Roberts’ entirely unappealing figure (ie it’s hard to work up much interest in or enthusiasm for Paul’s sketchy antics, ultimately). The actor’s-showcase vibe persists all the way through to the inevitably downbeat conclusion (which hardly packs the punch Fosse has surely intended), and it is, in the end, impossible to label Star 80 as anything more than a somewhat misbegotten endeavor that’s aged poorly in the years since its 1983 theatrical release.
** out of ****