Film Reviews

Dolly Month: Straight Talk (1992)

Starring: Dolly Parton, James Woods, Griffin Dunne, Michael Madsen, Teri Hatcher.

Director: Barnet Kellman

Shirlee (Parton) loses her job and breaks up with her boyfriend all in one day. She decides to start over in Chicago, but when she sets out to answer phones in a radio station, she’s mistaken for the new advice guru, and she’s a hit! While it turns out that her gift for giving advice is finally taking her places, the reporter who is investigating her wants to find out why she’s qualified to give advice. If they can get past their fighting and annoying each other, they might just be perfect for each other.

This is one of my favorite Dolly movies. I love her early 90’s outfits and her big hair, and she’s so relatable as a girl trying to start over and get a life going for herself in Chicago. She’s known for her witty bon mots and positive life philosophy from her various interviews, and here she is given free reign to express that part of her personality and it works. She’s funny and kind, and down to earth.

This film has higher production values than some of her other films, and it shows as she’s teamed up with a good script and other actors like Griffin Dunne, James Woods and Michael Madsen, amd more, who are all old hands. She gets to show off her comic timing and her characteristic warmth, and plays well against the more experienced performers. James Woods is great as the guy out for a story who learns what really matters when he meets Dolly’s character Shirlee. I personally feel like he’s a very unlikely romantic lead, not being conventionally attractive or warm, and yet you can believe he’d be a hard boiled Chicago reporter.

This film is warm and sweet, like home cooked apple pie. It’s not particularly novel in it’s approach to the rom com plot or genre, but it really hits the spot. It’s heart warming and funny, and has enough going on to keep you interested, and Dolly’s go-getter attitude and strong sense of self make her a more interesting romantic heroine than most. If you’re a Dolly fan, this is one of her best.

See It If: you’ve ever wanted to break free and start over, or if you’re the person all your friends go to for advice. A lovely, funny film with early 90’s charm.


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