“No topic was off limits. No question went unanswered.” That’s how MTV’s new one-hour documentary special Britney: For The Record — a “film” directed by Phil Griffin that the star says she decided to make because she wasn’t being seen in the light that she wanted to be seen in — opens. Shot over the 60 days following the MTV 2008 Video Music Awards, it plays out more like a very special episode of The Hills than VH1’s Behind the Music. Unlike some critics, we think that’s OK.
Sure, we went in skeptical — it was presented by Britney’s fragrance and her manager Larry Rudolph was an executive producer for chrissake — but we left rooting for the pop star’s impending comeback. Did we get snowed by this slick infomercial or is there a chance that Britney’s not bad — just totally not balanced.
Some highlights from the show after the jump.
– Jamie Spears explains that cheese grits are the equivalent of Wheaties for Southern girls, and uses a Velveeta cheese single because he “don’t have any sprinkle cheese” to make them.
– Manager Larry Rudolph first references The Comeback. Cut to Britney saying that she doesn’t really like it when people in her camp call it The Comeback. We can’t blame her.
– Britney tries to explain her awful performance at last year’s VMAs. But doesn’t. We can forgive her because how do you explain a train wreck?
– Britney alks about this past year, her rebellious side, and the bad people who she let into her life because she was lonely. She starts to tear up. It kind of reminds us of that wild girl who you went to high school with who ended up in rehab but now has two kids and looks like she’s getting her life together.
– Britney reveals that dancing is something that she has to do or she’d be dead.
– Britney talks about her good days and bad days — not just in the biz but in her personal life, too. She calls Justin Timberlake “part of the magnitude of what she’d become.” She says that after they broke up, she was devastated and would go out just to keep her mind busy. She talks about her break up with Kevin, explaining that having kids and her Malibu dream home with him made the playing field was different because she lost her whole world. This part makes us like her.
– Britney twangs about her next music video for “Womanizer,” which she says will be a “Toxic: 2.” She twirls her hair ad nauseam. It makes us not like her. But then her annoying dad interrupts her, and we realize that she has to live with him, so we forgive her.
– Britney admits that she got married (for the second time) for the idea of it, and then Kevin started going out more by himself and she never saw him anymore. When that happened, she says things just got really weird but she insists she was not doing drugs. She was a prisoner in her home with two infants — one who was breastfeeding — and trips to New York or Miami offering her only respite from the paparazzi. She says that she wishes she had thought to just go to Louisiana, but that hindsight is 20/20.
– The shaved head incident comes up. She says she was going through a lot of artificial stuff with Kevin and the kids at the time. He had just left and she was devastated. She explains that people shave their heads all the time — just a form of rebellion and an attempt to shed things that had happened, not her going crazy.
– She calls dancing spiritual again, and explains that for her, art is therapy — sometimes the only way to touch a feeling is to move your body in a certain way.
– Britney says that the only time that she wishes she wasn’t famous is when she wants to do normal things, like grab an ice cream or walk through the Grove with a friend — when she wants to feel “part of the people.” For some reason, we don’t find this part obnoxious, just kind of sad.
– Britney explains the initial one to two year high of celebrity. She says at one point, about six years in, she went home to Louisiana and just wanted to shut it off and create a new life.
– She tries to go shopping and all hell breaks loose. We are actually scared for her.
– Rebels when the interviewer calls her a victim and says that she hates it when celebrities complain about their success/don’t take advantage of it.
– Weird but kind of funny obligatory shopping spree/dressing room montage.
– Britney goes to see In the Heights. Miraculously she does not get mauled by the crowd but she does have to take a lot of annoying pictures with the actors backstage. Goes to dinner with a few of the actors, and then it looks like she tries to score one of their numbers.
– Britney says that she used to be a “cool chick” but feels like the paparazzi has taken that side of her life away from her. If she’s using the phrase “cool chick” we feel like she could never have been all that cool.
– On the set for the “Womanizer” music video. Her father accuses her of wearing hooker shoes, but doesn’t sound like it’s a bad thing when he’s saying it. He goes on to explain that “letting her” record the album and shoot this video is good for her because it keeps her busy. Britney does a dead-on impression of her dad.
– Britney talks about the restraints of the team of doctors/lawyers analyzing her each day. She says she just copes with it and she can’t be completely happy because she’s afraid of everything being taken away from her. She says that the people around her hear what she’s saying but no one is really listening, and that she’s sad. She starts to cry and compares her life to a jail sentence without an end of her sentence in sight — it’s too in control with no excitement or passion — like Groundhog Day.
– Britney says there was a really, really bad time in her life that was out of control and crazy. People deal with stuff in different ways and maybe she had some kind of traumatic stress. She remembers that she didn’t want to be at home because her babies represented home. When she was in her car and driving she felt like she was “going somewhere.”
– Madonna! looking very young and/or surgically feline, talking about how she feels maternal toward Britney. Then she starts babbling on about the universe, spiritual growth, blah, blah.
– Britney says she’s angry with herself for letting people take advantage of her, but she has to move on.
– Britney says she gets out of bed for her two precious jewels — the boys — and her career. We finally see the kids. It’s Halloween and Jamie is dressed as a monster clown and beats on the window, making the boys cry.
– Britney starts talking about believing in God because of her kids. Her idea of heaven: “To have my kids on an island — and a man — and no one could get to us.”
– Britney says she chooses to be a happy person. If she has a bad day, she gets really angry with herself and reminds herself to be strong. She has no regrets. She thinks the majority of people want her to strive, do well, and be a strong woman. She wants people to realize that she’s just like them, that she loves what she does and her babies and she works really hard. And she’ll have a good book about it one day — “a good mysterious book.”