Anton Ego said it best in “Ratatouille” : “We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.”
Let’s hope so because the only fun you can have with this movie is mocking it. This is perhaps the worst movie I can remember seeing in years. It will certainly be the worst movie on this project of 1984 films. It is a disaster in conception, execution and experience. My guess is that everybody involved would be perfectly happy to have this removed from their filmography. It is a blight that will lower anyone’s esteem.
Let me start by saying that I am a fan of the two stars and the director of this movie. While my catalog of Dolly Parton songs does not go deep, I do remember when “Jolene” was a crossover hit in 1973. Top forty radio played all kinds of songs and country tunes slipped into the top forty on the pop charts regularly. Sylvester Stallone is “Rocky”, “Rambo” and a dozen others that I have happily watched in dozens of movies over the years. Bob Clark directed two terrific Christmas movies and “Porky”s” so I know his work. “Rhinestone is a sad reminder that talent can be wasted when bad ideas get funded.
Apparently all action stars want to do is comedy.Arnold made “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop” and “Junior”. Kurt Russel had “Captain Ron” and “Overboard”. Heck even Chuck Norris had “Top Dog”. No one however, tried as often and with such futility as Sylvester Stallone. Before “Oscar” and “Stop or My Mom will Shoot”, was this misbegotten attempt at mixing music and comedy. It is literally painful to watch. I cringed when Stallone’s character first tries to sing. It’s not that the singing is bad (although that is cringe-worthy as well), it’s that the performance is completely out of control. Sly’s Taxi Driver named Nick is full of loud pronouncements, stereotypes, and foolish efforts to play slapstick. The nearly inaudible asides he used in “Rocky” were charming in small doses and when delivered in a context of reality. Stallone here seems to be convinced that louder is funnier and that character is all behavior. Admittedly, Nick is not supposed to be a good singer at first, but what Stallone does to him is turn him into some idiot acting like he is singing on a stadium stage and waving his arms and gesticulating as if he is having a fit.
Dolly fares a little better because she gets to sing some songs in her own personality. If three or four of these tunes had been put into a more serviceable story, they could have been hits. As it is, they get lost in the scenery and the parody that is taking place around her. She should have been Henry Higgins and instead she is Victor Frankenstein. When her comedy song “Drinkenstein” is played seriously, you know someone did not understand how this movie should work. She is required to be sweet one minute and shrill the next. The day after they consummate their romance, she practically spits on him in front of his family, just to create another complication before the big performance. These characters do nothing that normal human beings would do. Their personalities are cliches and the story line is distasteful.
This is a movie where the comedy is supposed to come from wearing silly clothes, eating food with your hands because you are a Southerner, and waking up in the duck pen on a farm when you pass out drunk. The idea of a fish out of water story does not work at all. There is really no reason for Jake, Dolly’s character, to take Nick back to Tennessee to prepare for his performance. Richard Farnsworth plays her father and he gets stuck doing more coaching about singing than she provides. Nick’s father is a mortician, for only one reason, to allow the lamest double entendre joke about male genitalia you can imagine. No, go ahead, imagine a horrible joke about penises as instruments…stupid right? This one is stupider.
It has a bad reputation and there is a reason why, this movie is awful. I purchased it on line so I could rewatch for the blog, the people who sold it to me must still be laughing about the rube who bought “Rhinestone “from them. Bob Clark allowed his actors to pretend to act and mimic human beings for 111 minutes. Stallone worked over the original script and there are some pretty obvious examples of his work, but Phil Alden Robinson who wrote the screenplay in the first place has to bear some responsibility for the scenario and the characters. Believe me my friends, it is not just the dialog that kills this movie. Ron Leibman should sue his agent and find out why he did not get the equally seedy “Blame it on Rio”. At least there he would have had second billing.
You see this clip above, this is when he is supposed to be successful. Visualize how he must have appeared in the earlier scenes and you will know the pain without having to experience it. If any reader cares to try and defend this, I will happily debate you on the topic, although my mocking tone might make it seem that I have little respect for you. Sorry, it will just be the blowback from this film from 1984 that blows. It was a great year for films, think of how the average could have been raised if we could drop this low score.