Former Baywatch star reclaims her story in untidy documentary, while Dear Edward has a wobbly start but Lockwood & Co is a delightful supernatural yarn
Allow us, for a moment, to separate a difficult documentary from its likeable subject. You are going to hear a lot about Pamela, a Love Story (Netflix). So much so that it might seem like director Ryan White has crafted the definitive portrait of a global superstar.
True, Pamela Anderson is her usual charming self here, and she does what she needs to do to reclaim her story. But White’s film is a peculiar, plodding beast — well-intentioned, I’m sure, but annoyingly unfocused and regrettably untidy.
Everything comes back to the infamous sex tape. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single person who doesn’t know the story of Anderson and her rock star ex-husband Tommy Lee’s stolen home video.
Anderson, interviewed at her lakeside retreat in Canada, speaks softly and elegantly about the matter. The notorious tape — which became an online sensation before online sensations were a thing — destroyed her career, yet barely affected her ex-husband’s. Everyone — paparazzi, talk show hosts, Tommy — turned on Pamela.
Again, we’ve heard these tales before. White’s film gives Anderson the opportunity to explain, in her own words, how the ordeal impacted her life. She reminds us that she never made a cent off the tape.
At one point, Pamela informs us of the abuse and rape she endured as a child. We listen to stories of her parents’ fractious marriage, and of the football match in Vancouver where she was essentially ‘discovered’ on a jumbotron.
Nothing was ever the same after that night, and these early parts promise a steady and insightful character study. And then White hits the fast-forward button. Pamela briefly recalls taking the bus to Los Angeles for her first Playboy shoot. There are rapid anecdotes about her time on the Baywatch and Barb Wire sets.
We are presented with mere scraps about Pamela’s activism for Peta, her friendship with Julian Assange, her response to Hulu’s Pam & Tommy miniseries, and her 2022 Broadway debut (she played Roxie in Chicago).
Pamela remains open and honest throughout, and she invites us to view home videos and to listen to entries from her personal diaries. Incredible material, then, but White flies through and skims over everything, arranging his film in such a hazardous, hurried manner, that you wonder why he didn’t just make a series instead.
Curiously, for a documentary that is astonishingly candid, it’s also a tad elusive, and that title remains a mystery. Is this Pamela finally learning to love herself? Is this, perhaps, a story about Pamela and her sons, Brandon and Dylan? Or is it something else entirely?
Towards the end, Pamela admits that the only man she ever really loved was Tommy Lee. But White never follows this up — he just moves on to the next thing.
Pamela comes across well here. She is consistently warm, compassionate and extraordinarily down to earth, and she says she won’t watch this documentary when it comes out. Making it, I imagine, is more than enough, and that’s fine. But this still feels like a wasted opportunity.
Elsewhere, Dear Edward (Apple TV+) is a bit of a head-scratcher. This sprawling ensemble piece tells of a 12-year-old boy named Edward Adler (Colin O’Brien) who survives a catastrophic plane crash.
Everyone else on board the flight dies, including the boy’s family, and nobody knows what to do with their grief. So, the mourners — and there are lots of them — begin writing letters to Edward. Eventually, their lives cross paths.
You know how these types of melodramas work. Created by Jason Katims and based on the novel by Ann Napolitano, Dear Edward plays out like a weird cross between Lost (minus the island and the smoke monster) and This Is Us (minus the wit, charm and charismatic performers).
Yep, there is far too much of everyone and everything in this series. Some of it is good: Connie Britton shines as a widowed socialite, and the plane crash sequence is suitably intense. Some of it is really frustrating, and the incessant sad pop songs need to go. A wobbly start, then.
Unlike Lockwood & Co (Netflix), which is a bit of a hoot. Film-maker Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) steers this delightful supernatural detective yarn that imagines a spooky, sideways England where ghosts are real, something bad has happened and gifted youngsters are trained to rid their towns of unwanted spirits.
One of these youngsters, Lucy (Ruby Stokes), has had a particularly rough time of it, but a new job at a teen ghost-hunting agency, opposite a Mr Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman), might soon change everything. I suspect the adolescent Mulder and Scully vibes are intentional — and that this witty, whip-smart thriller will likely be renewed for a second season.