Film Reviews

Dolly Month: Rhinestone (1984)

Starring: Dolly Parton, Sylvester Stallone, Richard Farnsworth

Director: Bob Clark

During the early 80’s, two of the hottest stars who had both built themselves from nothing through hard work and determination, decided to make a film together. That film was Rhinestone, and those stars were Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone.

This film is one of those 80’s oddities that you wonder how it got greenlit, or you wonder why you never heard of it. It’s the story of a country singer, Jake (Parton) who has to make a bet with her slimey manager that she can turn an average New Yorker into a performer. If she wins, she is free of her contract and can start to get on with her career, but if she loses, she has to serve another five years in the night club she works at. Enter loser cabbie Nick (Stallone) who reluctantly agrees to the bet, but can she make him over and teach him how to sing like a cowboy in two weeks?

Sounds really cheesey, right? Like just an all over bad idea? Well, I HAD to see it because I love Dolly Parton and I thought this sounded like the best worst film I’d never seen.

And you know what? It’s actually not exactly what I expected. I ended up really liking this film.

It kind of follows a formula, with the two being polar opposites, Dolly performing some songs, the montages, jokes at the expense of country folks, the two slowly falling for each other, and a happy ending. It’s all a bit hammy and a little cheesey too.

And yet… Dolly has that irrepressible spirit that’s just wonderful to watch. She’s charming and she gives us a few great tunes. But she’s also got good timing, she’s really very funny and has some great one liners.

And Stallone… He makes fun of himself so much in this film and he really turns up, throwing himself into the comedy of the role. So many times, I just couldn’t believe he was in this film. But in a good way. He’s not badly cast as someone who can’t sing and who isn’t from the country, because that’s who he really is. He is absolutely hilarious in this film. He throws himself into bad performances of songs, he dresses up in fringing and boots, he plays rock and roll incredibly badly, he attempts to sing, and he makes some bad jokes. He’s actually pretty great.

Honestly, I saw this thinking I would laugh at it, but I found myself laughing along with it. OK, I laughed at it some too, but I found myself laughing during this film more than I’ve laughed at a film in years. Which really surprised me. I loved the costumes, Dolly’s warmth and her huge hair, and Stallone’s willingness to have fun and just go with it. A lot of the characters are kind of hammy and a little cartoonish, but I kind of liked that in this film. I can imagine how this one grated on people and was a failure when it came out. Stallone was such an action guy in this era, he is a really odd casting choice, but I really like him for not holding back in this film. I think people might not have been ready to see him being this silly. It’s not a subtle film, it’s not even ground breaking in any way. But I really did wonder if Jake would be able to get a country singing performance out of Nick!

It’s a funny film, and worth seeing for a feel good laugh, some Dolly-isms, some good songs and Stallone’s comedic performance. Whether you laugh with it or just at it, I have to admit, I loved it. And I didn’t expect that.

See It If: cheesey and hammy, it’s actually a lot funnier and entertaining that you might think.

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