I know how it is, you hear the word “documentary” and your brain automatically hits the snooze button. But hold off on that trigger finger, because I’ve found a documentary worthy of your full, unmitigated attention. In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher‘s one woman show is featured as a compelling feature length documentary for HBO.
I had a chance to review this special already, and I’m here to share my thoughts. The shows opens as you hear Fisher singing “Happy Days are Here Again” while we see the titles of newspaper headlines about her life. (The headlines are not tame.) She talks about taking a funny slant on “tragic and shocking” things so they can’t do you harm.
“If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true…and that is completely unacceptable.” – Carrie Fisher
You might know Carrie Fisher as an actress, screenwriter, or author. Or you might know Carrie Fisher as the daughter of the singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. See, not content to just be the daughter of America’s Sweethearts, Fisher made a name for herself in the 70’s when she starred as Princess Leia in Star Wars. You probably knew that unless you’ve been living in a cave and you’d think Glee was just an emotion and not a widely popular TV show.
I really enjoyed when Fisher talked about her parents, because she alone has a unique perspective on growing up with her two famous parents from Hollywood’s Golden Age. If you want to talk about celebrity gossip, this is the stuff that Perez wishes he had to write about. Fisher’s Dad left her Mother for a woman who they’d both been friends with. In fact, Debbie had been this woman’s Matron of Honor. (And who was this woman? Elizabeth Taylor.) “Think of Eddie as Brad Pitt, Debbie as Jennifer Aniston and Elizabeth as Angelia Jolie. Does that help?”
After using a large chart for all of the scandals, Fisher also talks about the simple absurdity of growing up in a house with eight little pink refrigerator, and two pools. Her family was weird.
Fisher says, “I grew up knowing that I had the prettiest Mother of anyone in my class.” And yet, her Mother had some eccentric ideas like taking her daughter out of school to be a chorus girl in the musical she joined to get away from her current husband. Debbie also wanted Carrie to get pregnant by one of her relatives because they kid would have nice eyes. Seriously. And you thought your Mom had crazy ideas.
Of course, Fisher talks about her experience with Star Wars and all of the Star Wars merchandise of Princess Leia (Pez, Soap, Princess Tater – a Mr. Potato Head, the Lifesize Princess Leia sex doll…) It’s something all Star Wars fans (and those part of her “small, merry band of stalkers”) should watch.
She went on to talk about more serious topics like having ECT (electro shock therapy) and her divorce from Paul Simon. Per her signature style, she makes it all funny. There were a few moments were I paused and felt like I just didn’t care about parts of her story (the way sometimes you know there’s a real issue being talked about on the news, yet you just don’t feel invested in learning all the details.) I think that above all she is a good person to inspire you to laugh at yourself and enjoy life.
Summary via Press Release:
In WISHFUL DRINKING, Fisher details her complicated yet eclectic extended family tree in Hollywood Inbreeding 101, employing a blackboard and wooden pointer. Her father Eddie Fisher’s very public affair with Elizabeth Taylor ended what had been perceived and celebrated as a “storybook marriage,” and she and her brother Todd later watched both her mother’s and father’s “once white-hot bright star of celebrity slowly dim, cool and fade.” In 1973, at her mother’s urging, the 17-year-old Fisher enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London; two years later, her life changed forever when she donned a white dress as Princess Leia in George Lucas’ “Star Wars.”
Carrie Fisher Wishful Drinking Quotes:
“You are only as sick as your secrets.”
“I invite people to my show not to look at my house but to listen to the furniture.”
“…so every time I look in the mirror, I have to send him a couple of bucks.” (On George Lucas owning her likeness.)
“I knew celebrity was just obscurity biding its time. I mean, you know, it is all going to run into a wall.”
“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true…and that is completely unacceptable.”
“When you are a teenager you are horrified by everyone.”
“…once white-hot bright star of celebrity slowly dim, cool and fade.”
“I say, ‘I was invited to a mental hospital, you know and you don’t want to be rude. Right? So you go.'”
“I don’t know that anyone in our family is comfortable.”
“I haven’t been naked in 15 years. And I haven’t been sleeveless in 20.”
“Instant gratification takes too long.”
“Things were getting worse faster than we could lower our standards.”
“Saying you’re an alcoholic AND an addict is like saying you’re from Manhattan AND New York.”
Wishful Drinking premieres on HBO, Sunday, December 12 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 14 (11:15 p.m.), 16 (9:30 p.m.), 22 (12:30 a.m.), 24 (3:15 a.m.) and 28 (1:00 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Dec. 18 (11:30 a.m.), 26 (4:30 p.m.) and 29 (8:00 p.m.)