‘Glitter & Doom’ - Hit or Miss

"Glitter & Doom" via IMDb.

Let’s be honest. Director Tom Gustafson, and his longtime writing partner Cory Krueckeberg, had one good movie in them: 2008’s “Were The World Mine.”

A low-budget indie, inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it was the kind of movie that set the bar high for whatever Gustafson and Krueckeberg would come up with next. In the years that followed, the pair repeatedly failed to live up to the standard set by their first film. Making matters worse, they almost take the Indigo Girls down with them via their latest overly ambitious project, the jukebox movie musical “Glitter & Doom” (Music Box Films).

With a title borrowed from a Tom Waits live album (another indication of Gustafson and Krueckeberg’s reliance on outside influences), “Glitter & Doom” tells the intricate tale of titular characters Glitter and Doom (played by newcomers Alex Diaz and Alan Cammish, respectively, making their film debuts). Glitter, the son of successful businesswoman Ivy (Ming-Na Wen), doesn’t want to follow in his mother’s footsteps and enter the corporate world. Ivy League-educated, Glitter’s dream is to attend a prestigious clown academy in Paris, under the tutelage of Fiasco (Tig Notaro).

Doom, the son of incarcerated single mother Robin (Missi Pyle), is a struggling singer/songwriter who makes a living as a historical preservationist. His depressing songs don’t impress Boston (Lea DeLaria), the talent booker at La Fountain, for whom he auditions a few times. But his usually solitary life is disrupted when, at the invitation of friends, he ventures out to a gay club and encounters Glitter. There is an immediate attraction between the young gay men, but it takes a while before they have the chance to act on it. Part of the story is about the pursuit, which both lead actors (and singers) handle with seductive and youthful charm.

Eventually, as their courtship heats up, they are faced with difficult decisions. Will Doom answer the relentless phone calls from Robin, who is about to be released from prison? Will Glitter submit his clown school application in time, and what if he gets accepted? Can Doom ever book the gig he desires at La Fountain?

As was previously stated, the music in “Glitter & Doom” by the Indigo Girls is everything. Drawing on the duo’s songs from albums released between 1989 and 2009, as well as Emily Saliers’ lone solo album, “Murmuration Nation” from 2017, and Amy Ray’s fourth (out of seven) solo album “Lung of Love” (2012). The movie also includes the new song “What We Wanna Be,” relegated to playing over the closing credits.

Far from being lackluster, “Glitter & Doom” is almost too sparkly for its own good. The dependence on special effects, including the overuse of the lyrics to Doom’s songs floating off the pages of his journal and across the screen, and the especially confusing leaps in time, are more distracting than delighting. Cameos abound, including Ray and Saliers as a pair of music producers, bi chef Anne Burrell as a supermarket cashier, as well as Kate Pierson (of the B52’s), drag performer Peppermint, and Tony-nominee Beth Malone.

In the spirit of “Mamma Mia” (but with much better songs), “Glitter & Doom” attempts to take the jukebox movie musical to new heights. Unfortunately, it just keeps getting in its own way. 

Rating: C


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