Billie Frank is a talented young singer who endures every hardship imaginable as a child. She spends her evenings hanging out in nightclubs with her boozy lounge-singer mother who one night falls asleep with a lit cigarette and burns their house down. Now homeless and penniless she sends young Billie to an orphanage with her orange tabby cat in tote. After clearly spelling out how tough her life has been the film fast-forwards to 1983: bad clothes big hairstyles and head-splitting dance music. Billie starts a career as a backup singer with her two friends Louise and Roxanne. While singing with the dance sensation Sylk Billie gets discovered by an influential New York DJ Julian "Dice" Black. Convinced that he can catapult her to stardom the two form a partnership and eventually become lovers. However tensions begin to mount as Billie is urged by her record label to work with different producers.
It is difficult to gauge Carey's performance in this film since she does not have that many lines. The ones she does have are so clichéd it is almost difficult to keep a straight face when she utters them. Her talents are obviously better expressed in front of the microphone where she spends a better part of Glitter. Had the soundtrack been more inspiring and less a medley of overworked ballads her singing might have brightened this otherwise tacky movie. Instead Carey is resigned to bashfully bat her sparkly eyelids in as industry insiders gush over her talents. As Dice musician-turned-actor Max Beesley's significance in the film almost eclipses Carey's. However his attempts to smother his British accent and take on a genuine New York drawl backfires because of its inconsistency. And like Carey his character suffers the fate of a bad script marred with contradiction.
Set in 1983 Glitter misses the mark in terms of accurate depiction of the materialistic decade. Apart from some of Carey's costumes which include pumps leg warmers and capri leggings and some bad renditions of classic '80s dance tunes like "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On " the film lacks authenticity. For example it's highly doubtful that a white DJ in a dance club would have been using the term "aight" 18 years ago. Drugs are also mysteriously absent from the club-heavy scenery perhaps because of the PG-13 rating. Glitter is also littered with slow-motion shots that are accompanied with dumb swooshing sounds. What was Vondie Curtis Hall thinking when she agreed to helm this project? Nothing redeemable could possibly have come out of Kate Lanier's ill-fated script.