It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Howard Stern has been accused of a lot of things, but he has never been accused of being dumb. With “Private Parts,” his surprisingly sweet new movie, he makes a canny career move: Here is radio's bad boy walking the finest of lines between enough and too much.
His fans will find enough of the Howard whose maxims include “lesbians equal ratings.” General audiences will be seduced by the film's story line, which exploits three time-honored Hollywood formulas: (1) rags to riches, (2) I gotta be me and (3) hey, underneath it all I'm really just a cuddly teddy bear.
The movie shows the coronation of a geek. In grade school, we learn, Howard's father made a more or less daily practice of calling him a moron.
Howard was the only white kid in an all-black high school. He didn't date until college (even a blind girl turns him down, after feeling his nose), and he married almost the first woman who was nice to him. Played by Mary McCormack, his wife, Alison, plays a key role in the film, which asks as its underlying subplot, “How much will this woman put up with before she dumps him?” The answer, as Stern listeners know, is “a lot.” “Private Parts” is a biopic about an awkward kid with a bad radio voice and such shaky breath control that he was always running out of steam in the middle of the call letters. Working at a 40-watt station, he's promoted to program manager because he's such a lousy DJ, and is told by the station owner: “Disc jockeys are dogs. Your job is to make them fetch.” Fired from a country station he hates, Howard tells Alison: “I have to be myself on the radio and tell the truth. I have to go all the way.” He does. He reveals things about their marriage on the radio that would be grounds for divorce in any civilized land.