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Picks and Pans Review: Rhinestone

updated 07/09/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1984 01:00AM

Ordinarily, there's barely enough room on a movie screen for Sylvester Stallone and his ego, let alone anyone else. Well, Sly, meet Dolly Parton (see story, page 86). Parton is such a powerful screen personality that her shimmery, sweet-natured energy more than matches Stallone's sullen, macho introversion. The contrast between them is fascinating. It also fits the story line. Parton is trying to teach New York cabby Stallone to be a country singer so that she can win a bet and get her contract back from Ron (Norma Rae) Leibman, for whom she performs in indentured servitude at his urban cowboy bar. Stallone is hardly a natural comedian, but he tries so hard to be endearingly corny that he's impossible to resist. Even though director Bob Clark's main previous credit is Porky's, the humor in this film is relatively restrained. The breast jokes are kept to a minimum, even though Parton has never looked more fetchingly voluptuous. And the barnyard humor that arises when Parton takes Stallone back to her Tennessee farm stays more or less in good taste. There's also a very funny parody of a country song, The Day My Baby Died, written by Clark, co-screenwriter (with Stallone) Phil Alden Robinson and Mike Post. Parton wrote the rest of the classy country score; it's frustrating that she never really gets to sing a complete song alone, although her duet with Sly on Stay Out of My Bedroom is wonderfully high-spirited. Richard (The Grey Fox) Farnsworth adds a masterpiece of upstaging as Parton's father, speaking so gently you have to strain to hear him; how else could an actor make his presence felt in this kind of company? Leibman is also effectively sleazy as the club owner. Stallone seems to get an inordinate number of close-ups, and there's a jarring, unnecessary plot twist at the end. But this is a charming movie, spunky and full of surprising fun. It's as if a mixture of lasagna and grits turned out to be the hit of the picnic. (PG)

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