Private Parts presents the complete Howard Stern
Directed by Betty Thomas.
Written by Len Blum, Michael Kalesniko, based on Howard Stern's book.
Starring Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack, Fred Norris, Paul Giamatti, Gary Dell'Abate, Jackie Martling.
Sony Cheri.By Jonathan Litt
Private Parts is an endearing story about the unbreakable bonds of love and friendship. It also features 20 naked lesbians on screen in one shot, a woman who reaches an orgasm using a sub-woofer, and jaw-dropping scene involving a 13-inch long kielbasa. Seriously though, Private Parts may be well deserving of its R rating, but for the most part it's a legitimately mainstream feel-good comedy that is bound to entertain a wide spectrum of people, both lesbian fanatics and not.
Private Parts doesn't try to whitewash Howard Stern (unlike what The People vs. Larry Flynt did with Flynt). It presents a complete picture of him, from innocent boy to mischievous teen to insecure college loser and finally to anything-goes radio disc jockey. The story is a narrative by Stern, but this isn't the same Stern that listeners hear on the radio every day. He is more subdued than usual, almost humbled, perfectly aware of how vulnerable he is making himself by telling his entire life story to all of America.
As listeners of his show know, his youth consisted mostly of his father yelling at him all the time to "Shut up!" and "Sit down!" So when the shy young teenager tells his dad that he wants to go into radio, his dad says, "You're too quiet! You need to talk more if you ever want to be on radio!"
"This," Stern says in retrospect, "from the man who told me to shut up 20 times a day." And thus starts a long series of failed attempts by Stern to get on the airwaves. He is such a klutz that at Boston University he ruins his one chance to be a DJ when he knocks a pile of tapes on a spinning turntable.
He follows his dreams, though, and takes on a string of dead-end jobs at small stations in his local area, moving on to Detroit and then to Washington, D.C., where he finally starts to make a name for himself.
This first portion of the movie contains some good laughs but is mostly a heartwarming reminiscence of how the meaningful relationships in his life took root. It's at BU where he meets his future wife, Allison (actress Mary McCormack), who stays with him through thick and thin. Later he meets Fred Norris and Robin Quivers (played by themselves), who both become close friends and integral members of his show. The synergy between him, Robin, and Fred help him develop his unique style of no-holds-barred comedy where he says anything that comes to mind. With the help of his increasingly outrageous and offensive comedy bits he becomes the number one DJ in D.C.
His success allows him to move on to his dream job, a spot at WNBC in his home town of New York City. This is by far the most satisfying and uproarious part of the film, as his relationship with his bosses at NBC escalates into an all-out war over control of the show. (They can't fire him because he has a three-year contract.) When they fire Robin in an attempt to scare him into submission, Stern reveals his true devotion to her by forcing them to hire her back. Later the program manager, not-so-affectionately nicknamed Pig Vomit, forbids him from using any of the "seven dirty words" on the air. Stern's revenge is so connivingly clever that it's guaranteed to leave audiences rolling on the floor with laughter. The pace increases as Stern rises to number one in New York in 1985, shocking all of the managers who were so eager to fire him.
Stern, together with producer Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) and director Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch Movie), has created an entertaining and nostalgic picture that is likely to win over the hearts of at least a few non-Stern listeners. In fact, test audiences have ranked Private Parts higher than any other movie in Paramount history, including Forrest Gump and Indiana Jones, and insiders say that it will be considered a disappointment if it doesn't surpass $100 million at the box office. Lest you think that Stern is not aware of all the buzz himself, make sure you don't leave the theater until after the closing credits.