There are those films that just seem to slip through the cracks of time. Movies that you always think about watching, but never make it a point to get the film. Then one dark and stormy night, you decide that you will venture out and find this movie. And they always are trouble to get. Forget Netflix. Forget Roku. Fuck Blockbuster. You are gonna have to work if you want to see RHINESTONE!
I know...I know...I should have just gone straight to Scarecrow Video. But you know you have those days when you don't want to drive all the way to the University District even though you know the movie is sitting there on the shelve and you didn't even have to call ahead. Quickly released on DVD, RHINESTONE even quicker went out of print and all my resources didn't carry it. So, I made the drive to Scarecrow Video and there is was. Of Course! Scarecrow you are the best!
Being a massive Dolly Parton fan and a new fan of Sly Stallone's body of work, it seemed odd that i hadn't been down the RHINESTONE road before. You can tell there is something off about it without even watching it. The shitty vhs copies of it gave off a presence that just didn't feel right when you put it in your VCR. But low and behold the DVD release. Toss those shitty cropped VHS copies in the trash, because wide screen is the only way to see RHINESTONE if you are going to make it through it.
Also, two pieces of pumpkin pie with low fat whip cream help a lot.
The credits roll and it seems promising. Based on the song "Rhinestone Cowboy", the film set out to capture the urban cowboy feel that swept the nation in the early 80's. John Travolta and Debra Winger really already said all that needed to be said about being an urban cowboy. Sadly, Dolly and Sly took on this project, which most likely sounded great on paper, but ended up being a nightmare for both of them.
The premise is pretty simple. Dolly and the owner of the bar where she performs make a gentleman's bet. If she can turn a regular Joe (no weirdos or lepers) in a country singing star she can get paid more or something. I am not really sure what the arrangement is, but you get it. Outside on the street, she meets a WACKY cab driver played by Sly and so it begins. She has two weeks to transform a mouthy jerk off into a RHINESTONE COWBOY!! FUN!! So we are 21 minutes into the movie and I don't hate it. Stallone is being super obnoxious, but kinda hot, so I forgive him a little...just a little. Dolly looks miserable. You never see either one of them waist down, because you know Dolly is in heels and almost the same height as Sly in his lifts. SECRETS.
So out of the city Dolly and Sly venture. I was shocked when they left the city. I had never gotten this far in the film in past viewing, so this was a nice little surprise. I thought. Dolly takes him back to her home to teach him what "Country" is really about. He is a douche bag from the get go. He refers to the people TRYING to teach him about music as HEE-HAW rejects and makes Chemo jokes. A real charmer! I kinda went into a Sly hole for awhile as I tried to process what his problem was. By this point in his career he was sooooo super conceited and it shows with RHINESTONE. Dolly has stated that working on this film wasn't all butterflies and big hair and it shows. She grits her teeth, smiles and goes through the motions. And it ain't easy. Every time Sly tries to land a joke, she laughs politely and moves along. But all of us that are lucky enough to live inside the bubble that is DOLLY LOVE can look into her eyes and see past all the fake smiles and scripted HAHAS. She is trapped in hell and she is sending a message to all her fans that watch the film. "I'M SORRY. I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER!"
Let's not discuss the TUTTI FRUITTE scene, when Sly attempts to show the country folk how to sing. Nope, let's not. NEXT. FAIL.
So Dolly fidgets and tries to figure out what to do with her hands as she attempts to plow through this mess of a movie. It is hard to hate the film, because Dolly is being tortured so much by the script and Sly's acting. She just wants to have fun and make good music, but the powers that be hold her back. And like most of us, starts stress eating and the girdles get tighter and tighter. We do get a good clogging scene and A LOT of Stallone bull hoof, which normally i wouldn't mind, but he is such a dick in this movie. He should be LUCKY to be able to even speak to Dolly! But then it happens and Dolly gets her revenge. At 52 minutes in the movie (if you can get that far) you get a reward!!! Dolly is teaching Sly to walk like a cowboy and his legs seem weird. There is some strange bucking at the knees and then you realize THAT THE FUCKER IS ON FUCKING STILTS!!! HELL TO THE NO!!! I kept rewinding the part over and over and it was shocking. He almost falls a couple of times and I like to think that the filmmakers hated him so much that they didn't do any editing with the scene. Nobody cared, because by the hour mark, everyone is checked out. OH! P.S. This is suppose to be romantic comedy!! Yes! They are suppose to have romantic chemistry. I know! Don't tell me....i didn't write the screenplay.
Dolly tries Sly out at the local hick bar and he sings a Parton penned song called "Drinkenstein". It sounds exactly like you think it would. But allegedly, Dolly was contracted to write a song about Budweiser (proud sponsor of RHINESTONE) and she did just that! Score one for Dolly. This lead to an intense conversation about the soundtrack for the ICONIC film STRAIGHT TALK with a fellow viewer. Then Dolly and Sly combine forces to sing a duet called "Physical Attraction". It's yuck. Promise. But, we do get a good scene of Dolly going to bed in full wig and make-up.
Suddenly, the movie tosses us back int the city and for some reason Dolly's character becomes a raging bitch. We all know that it is hard for Dolly to EVER bitch out anyone and her comfort level is pretty low for a good 20 minutes as her story arch continues. It reminded me of the horrid THE NEXT BEST THING, when Madonna becomes a seahag for no good reason. This is around the time you officially stop caring about anything in the movie. You have only one objective and that is to get through it. Dolly does sing an amazing song called "What a heartache you turned out to be". It's beautiful. It is pure Dolly.
Then one of my favorite things in a movie happens. I love when films are shot on location and the shot goes zooming by moviehouses and you get to see the marquee of what is playing. RHINESTONE has a couple of scenes like this and it is so much fun! They are out in the street and in the background are all these old grindhouse theatres and they are playing THE POWER, YOUNG WARRIORS, TWO OF A KIND and DC CAB!! AWESOME!!!
The big finale hits and Dolly basically looks like she needs to be rescued. I wish I could land a helicopter in the middle of the movie and snatch her up and whisk her away to her Tennessee mountain home to recoup, but alas she is forced to stand by her Sly and watch him climb up on stage to sing. He proclaims, "The South will rise tonight!" Charmed. He sounds like he is dying a slow and painful death as he barks out the lyrics to the song. Everyone cheers and hugs and it's over.
Sly and Dolly were able to walk away from the film, a little worse for wear, but not destroyed. I think enough people didn't even bother seeing it, so it just kinda died and nobody talked about it. Dolly doesn't not look back fondly on the Rhinestone experience and Sly is so cocky that I am sure he thinks he did okay in it. He didn't.
Rhinestone is not for the faint of heart or the easily upset. But if you make it through, you will experience a ride unlike anything else you would dare climb on too!
I do love the trailer on the dvd, because it makes it look "fun". And they call it the KNOCK OUT COMEDY OF THE SUMMER!