Just a heads up, Marvel fans - Starz currently has back to back viewings of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is glorious (to ME, Military Husband is threatening to turn on parental controls and block Starz if I watch it again - Marvel pooper). On Saturday night, after the 10th viewing, this conversation happened in my house:
Me: Well, I think it is time to turn on the movie. I really do not feel like watching this one on Sunday.
Military Husband: NO! It is is not even one I want to see!
Does he want to see any of them?
Really, tho? #Lifetimepeckingorder
In his defense, I was not too thrilled either about this:
Biopics of musicians are never a bad thing, for example, La Bamba, Walk The Line, La Vie En Rose, Sid and Nancy. However, when Lifetime does a biopic, it can never be good. And when I saw the previews for this movie during the week, I was all:
But, for real. Did Wonka kill those kids, tho?
First of all, 90s singer Toni Braxton is still alive. In order to have a biopic, should you not be 1) dead; 2) at least one member of your group dead or; 3) everyone THINKS you are dead because you disappeared into obscurity? Not to mention, and no offense to Ms. Braxton, but could Lifetime at least do a biopic someone a tiny bit interesting? You know, like:
R Kelly = Best. Biopic. EVER.
Lifetime, make it so.
But truly, I digress.
"Toni Braxton: UnBreak My Heart" begins with Toni collapsing while singing "He Wasn't Man Enough For Me" during her stint in Las Vegas. Then, we flash back to 1992. Toni and her sisters are practicing religious music (their father is a Reverend). Enter 90s hitmakers L.A. Reid and Babyface who look like this:
But really looked like this:
They are there to hear all the sisters sing, but fall in love with Toni's voice. Toni's mom is intrigued, but she does not want her girls singing any "bump n' grind" music.
Nothing wrong with a little bump n' grind.
The next day, L.A. Reid calls Toni and offers her a recording contract. Toni (who is actually narrating the biopic) tells us that this was the hardest decision she ever had to make. She tells her family and her sisters are heartbroken. Toni's mom makes Toni promise that she will help her sisters along the way. Thus, Toni moves to Atlanta where she meets Pebbles, who looks like this:
But really looked like this:
Now friends, I have a rather bad taste in my mouth for Pebbles. It seems back in the 90s she and L.A. Reid were fairly evil to artists, or at least that is how I felt after watching CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (a GREAT biopic that you should watch). Here we see Pebbles telling Toni that L.A. Reid has set Toni up in a fancy apartment. Toni tells Pebbles she cannot afford it, but Pebbles quips this all will come out of her "artist's budget." Later, L.A. Reid tells her the "artist's budget" pays for rent, clothes and other "accessories" you want to spend your money on while you are on the way to the top. And he tells her something along the lines of "not to worry about it" and "let's not talk about that right now."
At this point, I am like:
Oh Toni, if it sounds too good to be true.
Nevertheless, Toni is off to the studio. She does a demo of a song called "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" that will be on the upcoming movie soundtrack for Boomerang. Anita Baker is supposed to sing the song for the album, but backs out due to scheduling conflicts. She suggests Toni sing the song. Toni does just that and "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" becomes a hit on the Billboard Top Ten. In the meantime, Pebbles is molding Toni into a superstar.
I remember when EVERYONE wanted Toni's haircut.
She even suggests Toni get breast implants and tells her that Chanel will be Toni's new best friend. Of course, all of this is coming out of the "artist's budget." Then, 1992 rolls around and Toni performs "Give U My Heart" with Babyface on the Arsenio Hall Show. Toni quickly goes platinum, is nominated for three Grammys and receives a check for $1 million. Then, her head spins around on axis and she goes into full on "I'm Very Rich Bitch Insanity."
Suddenly, Toni has a Porsche, tons of fancy clothes and a new house furnished with all sorts of expensive home goods.
We move forward to 1996 and Toni is discussing the famous song "UnBreak My Heart" with L.A. Reid. She is not a fan because she wants to become sexier, instead of singing more songs about love and pain. "UnBreak My Heart," if you were not aware, was written by the incomparable Diane Warren (who has written too many famous award winning pop hits to name). Toni reluctantly decides to sing the song and we see her in the dress:
You know, THIS dress:
From Toni's 1996 music video for "UnBreak My Heart."
Of course, "UnBreak My Heart" is a huge hit. And folks, I can attest to this personally. "UnBreak My Heart" was on the radio on repeat for what seemed like eternity and EVERY SINGLE TIME a breakup occurred, every girl (including yours truly) in the 90s go to song was "UnBreak My Heart."
Anyhoo, Toni is on tour in Paris and learns that her band members are not getting paid. She finds out that she has no money to finish her tour unless she takes out a loan or cuts expenses. On the premise she will be receiving a large royalty check, she acquires a loan. When the royalty check arrives, it is in the amount of $1,992.00. Toni has no choice but to declare bankruptcy. She loses everything, including her Grammys.
At the same time, Toni is falling in love with band member Keri Lewis.
The two are married in 2001.
Toni decides to sue the record label for
screwing her out of taking her royalties. In court, the defense reminds Toni that she blew tons of money purchasing pricey items like Gucci silverware. She agreed that she did "treat herself" from time to time.
Gucci sporks, though?
Luckily, Babyface took the stand and admitted that Toni got a bad deal with her recording contract. Toni won and the label ended up paying her back all of the royalties which ended up amounting to around 22 million dollars. As part of the negotiations, she was not allowed to talk about the lawsuit for 10 years. Then, Toni finds out she is pregnant. She had been taking acne medication that could cause birth defects and decides to have an abortion in 2000. Toni is heartbroken, but goes on to have two children, Denim and Diezel, with Keri Lewis.
Meanwhile, Toni's mom has learned that Toni's dad was cheating on her. This, according to Toni, changed their family forever. We see Toni's mom beating on the door, screaming at her husband that she will "cut it off" and we all know what "it" means.
In 2006, Toni headlines in Vegas so that she can spend more time with her sons. During this time, she learns that Diezel is autistic. In a tearful performance, Toni tells her audience about Diezel and dedicates "You Mean The World To Me" to her young son. Then, Toni becomes a spokesperson for Autism Speaks.
Which was nice.
I do love when an artist uses their platform for a good cause.
Toni also learns that she is sick. And yes, Toni:
Assumes the Lifetime position.
She has a heart attack while performing in Vegas. Toni has lupus and her particular kind attacks her heart. She begins chemo and is told to stop performing. But, Toni performs until she collapses on stage (the first scene of the biopic). She has to cancel the Vegas stint at the Flamingo.
Then, the following "bad things" happen in Toni's life:
1) Toni and Keri's marriage ends and they file for divorce.
2) The vendors at the Flamingo sue Toni for millions for cancelling the Vegas show.
3) Toni files bankruptcy AGAIN.
4) As a result of bankruptcy, she loses her Grammys again (she has them all back now, by the way).
AND then, the following "good things" happen in Toni's life:
1) Toni's sisters are offered a reality show called "Braxton Family Values" on WE network. Toni reluctantly agrees to do the show and it is a success.
2) After years of hiding her disease, Toni goes public and proclaims she is a "lupus survivor."
3) Just as she is about to retire, Babyface offers to collaborate with Toni on a new album called "Love, Marriage & Divorce."
4) Babyface and Toni win a Grammy in 2015 for best R&B album.
The movie ends with the real Toni Braxton sadly singing "UnBreak My Heart." Are we supposed to feel sorry for her or something?
Andddddddd roll credits.
I know this particular recap was not my usual ha-ha laugh fest and for that, I apologize. Overall, I felt the biopic was a little watered down (read: BORING) since Ms. Braxton had creative control over the project with Lifetime. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see Ms. Braxton use her platform to support autism awareness and to see someone in the music industry not get caught up in the drug scene. But, BUT, I thought there were a lot of "woe is me" moments throughout the film that made me kind of roll my eyes.
Personally, it seems like Toni had many, MANY advantages and still has an excellent career. If you want to feel true pity for someone, I recommend spending this weekend watching Netflix's original movie Beasts of No Nation. And thank God daily for all the blessings you were given.
Am I too much of a cynical bitch?
Did you watch "Toni Braxton: UnBreak My Heart"? What did you think of the biopic? Let me know in the comments below!
UnBreak My Lifetime Chains, because I am,