Lay The Favorite is not a movie for everyone. There are at least two possible reasons that this movie—which is another movie based on actual events—that despite an A-list cast, it might not appeal to all audiences. The first of those reasons is that while it is based on actual events, the ability of audiences to relate to either the story or its characters is not there. That inability of audiences to connect to the story or its characters virtually eliminates suspension of disbelief and interest. The second of the reasons it might not appeal to a wider swath of viewers than it could have is that it is a noticeably niche film, which ties directly into the ability of audiences to relate to it. As has already been noted, Lay The Favorite was a “gamble” of a movie. And while it has its issues, there is at least one good thing that can be noted of it. And it’s not what one might expect. That one positive is the movie’s makeup department. The people behind the cameras did a top notch job making Catherine Zeta-Jones near unrecognizable in her role as Dink’s (Bruce Willis) wife, Tulip. It’s the one real saving grace to a story that otherwise struggles to reach audiences.
The biggest problem of Lay The Favorite is its lack of ability to be relatable to audiences. The central story is of a young woman played by Rebecca Hall who starts out a stripper and ends up turning her life around, becoming a journalist. Along the way, she experiences the trials and tribulations of love and life in general. The problem is that there is simply something about Raymer’s character and her journey to which relating is difficult at the least. Some might even draw quick comparisons to the likes of perhaps Erin Brokovich in watching Raymer’s story. Perhaps it’s that somewhat subconscious comparison that makes Raymer’s story less than relatable. It might lead some audiences to say to themselves, they’ve seen it already, and thus increase the odds of turning it off.
Audiences’ lack of ability to relate to Raymer in Lay The Favorite is just one problem from which the movie suffers. It’s directly tied into the movie’s other issue, which is the inability of viewers to suspend their disbelief and be pulled into the story. Right from the story’s outset, the story does little to pull viewers into its world. There’s little to no back story other than the obvious note that Raymer started out as a stripper. It does make an attempt to explain some back story. The attempt is brief at best during a conversation between Raymer and Dink. This is just one of many issues that bog down the story. Though, in its defense, so few movies based on books and real life events ever have ever been entirely faithful to the original story. So one can only wonder just how much this movie left out from Raymer’s original memoirs.
For all the issues that Lay The Favorite has, there is at least one positive that can be taken away from the movie. That one positive is the movie’s makeup department. Veteran actress Catherine Zeta-Jones co-stars alongside Bruce Willis as Dink’s wife, Tulip. Jones is almost entirely unrecognizable in her role. Her hair and makeup have been done in a manner that makes her look like a completely different person. The costume department is just as much to praise for this, too. The two together truly got her into her role. It’s proof of both departments’ talent in what they do. Audiences can at least take this away from a movie that otherwise was a tough bet for its studios.