Famed former televangelist Tammy Faye meets the Big C in “Death Defying.” Although from the same producers who created surprise arthouse hit “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which secured her status as a gay camp icon, new docu is less stylishly packaged. But it might go down more easily for those who found her “How-could-this-happen-to-meeee?!?” protestations (re: involvement with ex-husband Jim Bakker’s fraudulent PTL Ministries) in “Eyes” disingenuous. Slotted for cable broadcast bow this month, item could attract gay fest gigs.
Diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, Tammy Faye has to face her fear of chemotherapy — which she watched a close friend painfully withstand and then die anyway. She buckles down and commences a course of that treatment, noting every side-effect while dabbling in alternative therapies (acupuncture, yoga) that the film ridicules, and generally behaving like a country-fried Zsa Zsa Gabor. (Shopping for healthier foods, she fails to recognize most vegetables.) With her burgundy-dyed hair and shocking pink ensembles, Tammy Faye looks more like a punk rock grandma than ever. She is indeed amusing company, and generally a good sport, though, natch, many tears are spilled. Tech values are basic.