If malaise and human suffering in movies translates into sympathy and awards, then Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
is a bulletproof trophy winner. Newcomer Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe struck a chord with audiences as Claireece “Precious” Jones, an unfortunate inner-city teen with a laundry list of burdens: she is morbidly obese, pregnant with the second child from her father (the first has Down's Syndrome), illiterate, infected with HIV and emotionally, psychologically and physically abused by her mother (Mo’Nique). When she’s not dodging flying pots and pans thrown by her raging couch monster of a mother, Precious daydreams about being a Hollywood starlet and finds a glimmer of hope for her miserable existence in the form of an alternative-school teacher.
Precious is expertly crafted to be an inspirational story about someone overcoming insurmountable odds (that only a fiction writer could provide) and somehow finding hope. It’s also an opportunity to watch Mo’Nique chew the scenery as she breathes fire and chucks cookware while screaming about welfare and hairy pigs feet. A boozy Mariah Carey recently accepted an award in Palm Springs for her performance as Precious’s welfare agent—a Marisa Tomei-aping performance that required about 10 minutes of screen time and a team of makeup artists to remove the layers of paint that usually weigh down her face.
Dozens of award nominations later, Lionsgate has announced it will bring its precious trophy winner home on DVD and Blu-ray March 9. Special features include an audio commentary with director Lee Daniels, “From Push to Precious,” “A Precious Ensemble,” “Oprah and Tyler: A Project of Passion,” “A Conversation with Sapphire and Director Lee Daniels,” and Sibide’s screen test. The extras need mo’ Mo’Nique, so we’ll have to hope for some scene-grabbing antics when the actress wins the Golden Globe this weekend and, later, one of the Oscars the movie shamelessly guns for.