Whitney Pastorek
December 03, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Aside from a number of cheesy made-for-TV movies, there’s nothing funny about anorexia. So regardless of your expectations for a 43-minute all-Barbie retelling of Karen Carpenter’s rise and eating-disorder-fueled fall, don’t come to Superstar looking for laughs. Director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) put together this creepily moving film right out of college in 1987, and gained enough critical praise to jumpstart his career — but using Carpenters songs without permission got him into trouble and the film is now illegal to distribute or sell. Before the conflict, though, Haynes says Superstar was being used in schools and clinics as a teaching tool, and in the past he’s offered to donate all proceeds to the Carpenter foundation. ”My final plea is just, please, Richard Carpenter, please let us show Superstar someday, legally,” says the filmmaker. ”It was never meant to be a dis on Karen.”

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