‘What Happened, Brittany Murphy’ Miniseries Review

HBO Max adds to their documentaries of celebrities with ‘What Happened, Brittany Murphy.’ It covers the life, career, and sudden death of the actress. The two-part series is directed by Cynthia Hill with Blumhouse Television handling production.

The documentary interviews friends, colleagues, and fellow celebrities that knew Brittany Murphy. It follows her life, showing archival footage of her performing on school plays and even stealing the show as a reporter interviews her at a city festival. From there, we watch her climb the stairs of Hollywood only to marry indie screenwriter Simon Monjack. It also touches on the strange circumstances surrounding her death in 2009 at the young age of thirty-two.

Through interviews and archival footage, we see the kind of talent and spirit of Brittany Murphy. They touch on the highlights of her career from Clueless to 8 Mile to The Ramen Girl and later to the low point where she was starring in such films as Deadline. All the while, Monjack loomed in the background, controlling her career and her life leading to suspicion that he had something to do with her death. The documentary does a good job of telling her story and relating the conspiracies surrounding her death. Each person shared a side of Brittany that made you endure yourself to her, as she was a wonderful soul.

In my opinion, her ‘King of the Hill’ co-star Kathy Najimy had the best perspective. While most of the other celebrities had only met her once or worked with her one time, she actually had insight into her career considering they worked together for many years and brought a lot of good insight into Brittany’s mindset.

The biggest issue with me was the inclusion of Perez Hilton. The muckraker was given time to explain himself as he spread rumors of drug addiction about Brittany during her life with no basis in facts. Besides her, his website was not just hard on celebrities, he ruined lives by exploiting them and HBO Max gave him the opportunity to flippantly say he regretted it. The insincerity was obvious and the filmmakers lost me when he appeared on the screen. Najimy should have been given the time they allotted to him.

With this in mind, What Happened, Brittany Murphy offered no answers and no concrete solving of her death. While many interviewed had various ideas, the feature leaves it open-ended and it felt a bit dropped instead of calmly put to rest.

For me personally, I remember seeing the poster of the 2004 comedy Little Black Book with her on the side. It was hanging at the Blockbuster that I frequented the most and I remember thinking how beautiful she was. When she passed away, I heard so many rumors about how she passed and dwelled on how sad it was we had lost her as a culture. I have my own theory, but I will keep it to myself for now and only say that it is shame that she got entangled with Monjack as her career could have been so huge.

Check out the trailer below:

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Minor foul language, Drug content, Some violence, Unsettling conversation

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my documentary reviews of Sasquatch and Sophie: A Murder in West Cork. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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  1. I thought she was great in Clueless!
    Would you ever consider doing a review of Pleasantville? (Not a new movie obviously but I noticed you’ve been reviewing movies from the 90’s and I was curious about your take on it)

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