Truth or Dare
December 24, 2014
Todd: There was only one movie that was ever gonna serve Madonna well, and that would be a movie whose subject matter was Madonna.
Beginning of Truth or Dare
Todd (VO): Because Madonna is the defining pop star of my lifetime. Modern pop culture simply doesn't make sense if you don't get her influence on it. And the documentary about her, Truth or Dare, came out at a perfect time because there has never in my life been any entertainer anywhere as famous as Madonna was in 1991.
Todd: Like, I can't even think of anyone who even comes close. [Respective pictures of...] Maybe Britney Spears; maybe Eminem; maybe, way on the outside, Beyonce; maybe Kurt Cobain, but only after he died.
Todd (VO): So if I had to recommend only one Madonna movie, I'd make it Truth or Dare, because it is the most significant. Madonna is such an icon that we need a big-scale documentary like this to capture it, and to capture the real person behind the image.
Todd: And as it turns out, as a person, Madonna...kinda sucks.
- Clip of One Direction: This Is Us
Todd (VO): Nowadays, it seems like every teenybopper band or singer gets a documentary or concert film, and...
Todd: ...for the most part, those movies blow. 'Cause they're too nice.
Todd (VO): They're for little kids who just want support for their beliefs that their idols are perfect in every way, and that's simply the wrong artistic decision.
Todd: Every good music documentary has one main obligation, and that is to make its subject look as much as possible like a total asshole.
- Clips of Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, U2: Rattle and Hum, and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Todd (VO): Whether it be Bob Dylan being a pompous little twerp, U2 crushing themselves under their own giant egos, or Metallica's legendary transformation from metal gods to whiny, up-their-ass man-babies, the movie can only reach its best if the subject is at their worst.
Todd: And boy, oh boy, does Madonna deliver.
- Dancer: Take a poll?
- Madonna: Yeah, and ram it up your ass.
- Madonna: [to makeup artist] Yeah, well, like...like...I swear to God. Do something else. Do my eyebrows.
Todd (VO): Truth or Dare isn't about one thing, it's about many things. But the first thing I'd like to talk about how Madonna is apparently a horrible, spoiled diva who's constantly saying shitty things about people like she's in middle school.
- Madonna: [slamming phone down] What an asshole.
- Madonna: [to Kevin Costner] Thanks for coming.
- Kevin: I thought it was neat.
- Madonna: "Neat"?
Todd (VO): Okay, to be fair, Costner's mullet...
Todd: ...was pretty gag-worthy.
- Madonna: And that is another reason to not wanna live in Chicago. Beside for the fact that Oprah Winfrey lives here.
Todd: Where the hell did that come from?
Todd (VO): And don't think Madonna doesn't get some shit thrown back at her either. And in the case, it mostly comes from, get this, her boyfriend Warren Beatty.
- Madonna: And don't hide back there, Warren. Get over here.
Todd (VO): I don't know how long they'd been dating at this point, but Warren's patience with Madonna's bullshit had clearly already worn very thin.
- Doctor: Do you want to talk at all off camera? [Madonna shakes her head] You have nothing to say.
- Warren: [laughing] She doesn't want to live off camera, much less talk. There's nothing to say off camera. Why would you say something if it's off camera? What point is there of existing?
Todd (VO): Warren's not only calling out Madonna's phoniness there. He's calling out the phoniness of the entire project.
- Warren: Nobody talks about this on film?
- Madonna: Talks about what?
- Warren: The insanity of doing this all on a documentary.
Todd (VO): This is not the real Madonna, it's the Madonna on camera, and she is playing for them. Some of the scenes are pretty clearly staged, others are clearly orchestrated by the director instead of occurring naturally. This was an issue some critics back then had with the movie: how much of this was really real, and how much of it isn't.
Todd: I've read those old reviews, and quite honestly, they just seem cute now.
Todd (VO): After 20+ years of The Real World and Jersey Shore and various in sundry Kardashians, the idea of caring that so-called "reality" isn't really real is...oh, you poor dears, the next two decades aren't going to be kind to you.
Todd: But mostly, the fact that a lot of this movie is so dated...
Todd (VO): ...only enhances its edge. It's just a trip to go back to the early '90s and see how shocking all this stuff was. We don't have controversial music nowadays. The best we get is when Robin Thicke or somebody blunders into it face-first like a dumb-ass. Music isn't provocative anymore. I don't even know if we even can provoke people with music anymore, and that's at least partially because Madonna did it all already.
- Freddy DeMann: But then another one of our options is to cancel the show.
Todd (VO): Back then, all this stuff, it was legitimately dangerous. There was actual moral panic about this. There's this one scene in Toronto where her show is apparently so raunchy that, no shit, the cops show up beforehand and threaten to arrest her.
- Madonna: If I touch my crotch during the show, I'm gonna be arrested?
Todd: Can you believe that?
Todd (VO): Like nowadays, we've got Britney and Miley and Rihanna doing all sorts of shit onstage nowadays, and occasionally some monocles will pop out, but not to the point where anyone's gonna get arrested. In 1990, the cops were, like, "oh, this part of the show looks too much like masturbation," and Madonna's like, "what part...what am I allowed to do? Am I allowed to touch this, am I allowed to do that?" And they have to dick her over a legal definition of what she can and can't do. It's just... It's just so stupid in hindsight. These people are just getting...
Todd: ...so upset over nothing.
- Clip from film of Madonna in concert, where she, in her trademark cone bra, thrusts and violently humps a bed
Okay, not nothing.
Todd (VO): An over-the-top display of masturbation is also a good metaphor for this movie 'cause Madonna loves herself and wants you to love her. Besides the constant smack-talk, there's other ways in which Madonna seems obnoxious. There's this one hilarious part where they're in Europe and Madonna gets it in her head she's gonna go seduce this one foreign movie star who's big over there, no one heard of him in America, Antonio [cover of El Pais magazine featuring, as Todd mispronounces...] Banderas.
- Madonna: Antonio Banderas was this Spanish actor that I've had a crush on for two years.
Todd (VO): I don't know. Well, it turns out Antonio is married. His wife is right there, and she's still flirting with him right there in front of her. That is a dick move, especially if you're Madonna. When you're Madonna, you can't be doing things like that. Dolly Parton wrote "Jolene" entirely because of situations like this.
- Madonna: Don't worry, I'm just kidding. Not.
Todd: Also, there's Madonna's sense of humor.
- Madonna: [with Warren] I told him I wouldn't have his baby unless he was a vegetarian. Not!
- [after sucking helium] Liz, you look really well rested. Not!
Todd (VO): Yeah, I also told a lot of "Not!" jokes in 1991.
Todd: But I was 7.
Todd (VO): But to be fair, this happens to every young superstar. It's the inevitable result of this much fame, this much love and pandering, but also this much work and stress. Let's be clear here—every tour documentary emphasizes how hard it is being a famous person, but holy shit, this tour does in fact look goddamn exhausting. So yeah, no wonder she seems as irritable as she does. This is what happens to someone who reaches this level of fame before they've had time to reach adulthood.
Todd: Of course they're gonna be immature.
- Age: 32
That can't possibly be right.
- Madonna: What's my fart poem? Should I say it?
- To fart, to fart is no disgrace for it gives the body ease.
- It warms the blankets on cold winter nights and suffocates all the fleas.
Todd: Wikipedia, that date [shot of Madonna's Wikipedia entry, with a circled DOB of August 16, 1958] has to be wrong. I refuse to believe that.
If we can switch to praise here, it's hard to deny that Madonna has a lot to deal with.
Todd (VO): Turns out, being an honest-to-God world-changing, media icon superstar is not easy. And while every rock band in history has a song about how much touring sucks, Madonna shows are the biggest and have the most that can go wrong, whether it be a month of Japan during the rainy season.
- Madonna: I don't know about you, but I'm freezing my ass off. But we're gonna do a good show for you anyway.
Todd: Blowing out her vocal cords.
- Doctor checks out Madonna's throat as she repeats his sounds
Todd: Or just plain technical glitches.
- Madonna sings "Keep It Together" in concert as her mic goes out briefly
Todd (VO): Like I said, this allegedly revealing documentary is only "revealing," in quotes. Madonna is painfully aware of the camera at all times; they don't even try to hide that fact. That said, there are parts where it does seem like we're seeing a real Madonna in there somewhere. She gets tense and scared before shows, she holds prayers right before her very sacrilegious concerts. She genuinely cares about her band and dancers, she calls herself their mother. And at a hometown show in Detroit, her dad attends, which understandably makes her very, very nervous. I call this segment "Papa Don't Watch".
Oh, and then there's this bombshell. They're finally playing Truth or Dare, which is...yeah, that's the name of the movie, and the name of a game you shouldn't be playing if you're older than 24. And Madonna picks Truth.
- Donna DeLory: Madonna, truth or dare.
- Madonna: Truth.
- Donna: Who has been the love of your whole life.
- Madonna: My whole life? Sean.
- Donna: Your mama.
- Madonna: Sean.
Todd: [jaw dropped] Holy damn. [cover of People with Madonna and Sean Penn: "Diary of a Mad Marriage"] That poor woman.
Todd (VO): Whatever else you want to say about her, Madonna performs, and she is goddamn good at it. This is Madonna's peak period, so if you just wanna see a Madonna concert, watch this. More than that, it's a very well-put-together documentary about one of the most fascinating entertainers who ever lived, even if it's often not a very flattering one. At the time, it was the highest-grossing documentary ever made. Without even adjusting for inflation, it's still in the Top 20, and for good reason. Actually, if I were to recommend a Madonna movie as one you most need to watch, it would be this one. For those who don't remember what it was like, this will really help you understand the Madonna phenomenon more than anything else.
Todd: And for the most part, it's all downhill from here...with one exception. We are finally gonna get to the one Madonna movie that everyone seems to like. Madonna's barely in it.
- Trailer for...
- Announcer: Madonna.
- Mae (Madonna): What if my uniforms bursts open and, oops, my bosoms come flying out.
- Doris (Rosie O'Donnell): You think there are men in this country who ain't seen your bosoms?
- Announcer: A League of Their Own.
- Closing tag song: Madonna - "Like a Virgin" (live)
"Madonna: Truth or Dare" is owned by Miramax
This video is owned by me
Transcript in progress