Private Parts Review

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This portrait of Howard Stern jumps between his outrageous capers as TV personality and his lloving and stable home life.


In America, Howard Stern is a megastar. This high school nerd made good, six foot five and owner of the worst corkscrew perm in civilisation, has made a name for himself purely by courting controversy. His radio show dominates the ratings thanks to such gimmicks as nude women in the studio, simulated shagging and his tendency to say exactly what he wants, no matter how offensive. People either adore or abhor him, but tune in in equal measures all citing the same reason - they want to hear what he'll say next.

In England, however, Stern is virtually unknown. Which is why the screen version of his 1993 autobiography, a sizeable US hit, will probably be overlooked here. Which is a pity, as director Thomas applies the deft comic touch which made The Brady Bunch Movie (similarly ignored outside the US) such a hoot, to make for a deliriously funny, frequently outrageous romp.

Initially Stern (playing himself with the utmost conviction) seems an odd biopic choice; there's no scary parents or terminal illness here, and the only triumph over adversity is conquering his self-confessed under-endowment in the trouser department. Instead, there's uneventful upbringing, stable marriage to long-suffering wife Alison (McCormack) and his ascent through tin-pot radio stations to the Big Apple, together with assistant Quivers (also playing herself). Upon which the film flips into an anarchic one-man show, with Stern becoming increasingly hilarious and tasteless as his boss' hackles rise further.

The emphasis throughout is on Stern's devotion to his wife and family (he reportedly lives a monkular existence away from the studio) - if what unfolds is to be believed, he is a loving, perpetually faithful hubby and loyal boss, something strangely at odds with his public image. But while this sits uneasily with the film's bawdy tone, as entertainment it is a terrific tour de force - almost all of the set-pieces induce pant-moistening hysteria and a couple (a crudely funny on-air word game, the world's first documented orgasm by hi-fi speaker) are nothing short of masterful. Whatever your opinion of the man, on this evidence the cult of Stern is one well worthy of investigation.

Hilariously funny biopic that does not suffer for it's unknown subject.