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  Rhinestone Sing When You're Losing
Year: 1984
Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton, Richard Farnsworth, Ron Leibman, Tim Thomerson, Steve Peck, Penny Santon, Russell Buchanan, Ritch Brinkley, Jerry Potter, Jesse Welles, Phil Rubenstein, Thomas Ikeda, Christal Kim, Arline Miyazaki, Tony Munafo
Genre: Comedy, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jake (Dolly Parton) is a country singer who is making waves in New York City, some way away from her home in Tennessee, but that's thanks to the contract she has with her manager, the sleazy Freddie Ugo (Ron Leibman) which he won't let her go from. Freddie has his own Rhinestone club where he stages various country events, and one of those is his ever-popular talent night when a newcomer can take to the stage and try to win over the sceptical and heckling audience. After his latest discovery flops, this gives Jake an idea for a bet: if she can find a nobody to appear on the stage, and she can train him to professional level, then Freddie must release her...

Talkng of flops, this was one of the worst of Sylvester Stallone's career, as for some baffling reason audiences couldn't believe he would ever be a decent country singer, I know, him being so identified as a New Yorker as well you'd think it would be the obvious transition. Or maybe not, as we were meant to swallow that Sly was this cabbie plucked off the street by Jake to fulfil her wager, and no matter how much Rhinestone came across as a vehicle tailored for his particular set of skills, there was no getting away from it: singing was not one of them. No matter, you might think, we had a proper singer in the shape of Dolly Parton on board, she would assuredly save the day.

She might have done if she'd been allowed to trill a few more tunes, all except one (joke ditty) written by herself, but ludicrously the character who did the most singing was Stallone, and even when Dolly did get a chance to perform it was usually in a duet with him as he barked out the lines in a hopelessly tone deaf fashion. Quite what made him believe he was better at this than Parton is a mystery, but he surely was taken down a peg or two when the reaction was heard; he had actually sung in a film before as he had crooned the theme song for his Rocky follow-up Paradise Alley, a point which has been the source of much lampoonery ever since.

But Sly wasn't going to listen to reason, rewriting the script of Phil Alden Robinson against the future Field of Dreams creator's wishes to amp up what he regarded as jokes, and in truth there are points when the dialogue gets so dumb that you have to laugh, though maybe not always for the reasons intended. So Nick the cab driver, who we are introduced to welcoming some Japanese tourists to The Big Apple by way of guiding them away from the sushi bar they wished to visit and towards the country and western bar he thinks is more appropriate, being such a bad driver that he wrecks his vehicle, is adopted as by Jake (Jake?!) to teach him the ways of the good ol' boy. First we have to establish that he has no talent, which is simple enough.

The trouble is that even when he supposedly gets the hang of the technique, he still sounds like the musically inept fellow he was at the beginning. This after he has taken a two week trip down to Jake's hometown to learn the ropes, meeting her dear old dad (Richard Farnsworth) and tussling comically with her former boyfriend Tim Thomerson (who sings as well), though funnily enough Dolly is handier with her fists than Sly is when it comes to defending him. That this was directed by Bob Clark should not perhaps come as too much of a surprise when his propensity for bad taste was not always kept particularly well in check, but the finale where Nick dresses in a silver tassled suit and roars his way through his big number, this right after riding a horse through NYC at night to rescue Jake's honour from a lecherous Freddie, is so dreadful that being asked to accept the crowd would be wowed is impossible. It's a pity, because Dolly is a genuinely engaging screen presence, yet the Stallone juggernaut tramples all underfoot in his manful yet misguided efforts to expand his range.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Bob Clark  (1941 - 2007)

American born, Canadian-based writer, producer and director with a varied career, he rarely stopped working in the industry from his 1970s horror Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things onwards, with cult classics like chiller Deathdream, Black Christmas (the first of the North American slasher cycle), Murder by Decree (a Sherlock Holmes mystery), sex comedy Porky's and its sequel, and A Christmas Story (a cult comedy that has become a seasonal favourite) all winning fans. He was responsible for such derided films as Rhinestone and the Baby Geniuses movies as well. At the time of his death in a car crash he was working on a remake of ...Dead Things.

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