In his shameless attempt to capture the inflated physiques of Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone on screen, director Bob Clark has spawned a predictable—and largely tasteless—romantic comedy. With a lame script that has more stereotypes and flat jokes than a bachelor’s stag party, Rhinestone is built on bosoms, biceps and little else. Set in the world of country music, the movie is a feeble showcase for some toetapping tunes and an endless array of shimmering sequins.
Singer Jake Ferris (Parton) is the star attraction at a rowdy New York country-and-western bar. When she brags that she can teach any neophyte to sing better than the clones of Johnny Cash on amateur night, the club’s lecherous owner, Freddie Ugo, challenges her to a bet in true Pygmalion tradition. Jake finds a suitable guinea pig in Nick Martinelli (Stallone), a muscle-bound cab driver who smashes his car doing a double-take at her curvy frame and who hates country music “worse than liver.” She takes Nick home to Tennessee for a crash course in country music, and he scores points for his unique vocal style. But back in New York, as they prepare for the contest, Nick insults Jake, and she goes to Freddie to concede defeat —which means spending a night with him. Nick presents his dubious, urban cowboy routine to the club’s toughest audience and wins its approval.
With a script by Stallone and Phil Alden Robinson, Rhinestone is as subtle as a Hawaiian shirt. Its locker-room humor makes Porky’s, director Clark’s notoriously juvenile sex romp, seem sophisticated by comparison. And Clark compounds the problem by developing little pace or mood in his rush to show off the exaggerated forms of his leads on the stage.
Indeed, Rhinestone seems designed to benefit everyone but the audience. The film provides Stallone with a chance to break the tough-guy typecasting of Rocky and his later films. His body may be bursting out of his T-shirt but he is strictly a lovable lug who falls for a brainier blonde. And Parton, who looks like an oversized Kewpie doll in tight denim jeans and low-cut blouses, has an ideal showcase for her latest collection of hurtin’ songs, which will be sold as the movie’s sound track. As a calculated vehicle for its popular stars, Rhinestone is long on glitter and short on class.
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