Not that anyone asked, but “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” answers the question, “What ever happened to Tammy Faye Bakker?” in a style that makes for as entertaining and interesting a documentary as you’ll see anytime soon.
The purpose of “Eyes” is to tell Tammy’s story, from her point of view. Though the woman was a living Johnny Carson joke for quite a while in the late 1980s, let’s face it, we never had anything against her. It was her husband, Jim, who may have done wrong, and it was definitely Jerry Falwell who screwed them both over, weaselling control of the PTL Network away from them while pretending to be their friends. Tammy was just the one with too much makeup, crying at the slightest provocation. We may have laughed at her, but we didn’t dislike her.
“Eyes” makes her even more sympathetic, showing us that gee, she really DID get the raw end of the deal here. Her detractors’ points of view are not given much time, making this a bit of a propaganda film — but it’s slick, fascinating propaganda, to be sure.
And the film doesn’t take itself, or its subject, too seriously. For one thing, famous transsexual RuPaul is the narrator. Then there are the dog puppets who introduce new chapters in the film like the mice in the “Babe” movies did. Heck, the film starts with Tammy saying the eyes are the window to the soul, so when a loved one dies, she tries to keep their eyeglasses as momentos.
She even seems to admit her own pop-cultural punch line, self-parody status when she says, “Without my eyelashes, I wouldn’t be Tammy Faye.” Indeed: She IS what we remember her as being, and it doesn’t go a whole lot deeper than that.
But with great tongue-in-cheek style, her story is told, from her childhood up through the present, with her second husband, Ro Messner, barely being released from prison. Documentaries this light-hearted and shamefully entertaining don’t come along very often, so don’t miss this one.
A- (; )