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Rhinestone

No Award
1984

‘…a vanity project for two big stars who hadn’t figured out what audiences wanted to see them do, this is an egocentric disaster…’

The warnings are legion in terms of the famously poor quality of this Bob Clark movie from 1984, and yet I had to defy logic and stick my fingers in the electric socket. Sure, everyone knows that pairing Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton in a screwball comedy is a classic ‘orange juice on your cornflakes’ scenario; enjoyable on their own, mix the two legendary brands together and you get a sweet, sticky, indigestible mess that sticks to the bowl. And so it proves…

In a film apparently based on the Glenn Campbell song Rhinestone Cowboy and planned as a Mike Nichols project, Parton plays Jake, a country and western singer who plays nightly gigs in Manhattan at the behest of sleazy promoter Freddie (the great Ron Liebman). Jake makes a bet with Freddie that she can transforms an ordinary Joe into a top-class singer, and if she wins, Freddie has to release her from her punitive contract. But if she loses, Jake has to sleep with Freddie…New York cabbie Nick Martinelli (Stallone) is her only hope, but he can’t sing a note…

Stallone turned down Beverly Hills Cop and Romancing The Stone to play in this film, which was rewritten by the Italian Stallion himself and features the kind of schlub comedy that previously featured in his underrated Paradise Alley. There’s also a burst of trademark Stallone/Mom comedy as featured in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; for fans of Stallone off-message, Rhinestone is like a greatest hits of vanity. There’s even a shout-out to Mr T, soon to be Stallone’s opponent in Rocky III, when Nick addresses a mohawked parrot by saying ‘Love you in The A Team!’. But these are the garnishes; the meat and potatoes of Bob Clark’s film are the musical numbers, and yes, that means Sylvester Stallone singing Old Macdonald Had A Farm….

Parton gets a free pass here; her voice sounds great, and her original songs would power a decent musical film. But playing second fiddle to Stallone singing Old Macdonald isn’t a good look for anyone, and any film that ends with two duets featuring Stallone’s non-voice is onto plums. It may be nearly 40 years old, but Rhinestone is still every bit as entertaining and vital as the day it was released, which is to say it’s not entertaining or vital at all. A vanity project for two big stars who hadn’t figured out what audiences wanted to see them do, this is an egocentric disaster strictly for those who enjoy the palate-cleansing zing of a truly-tasteless bad movie.

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  1. Wow! I watched a little clip of Stallone’s singing – apart not having any idea of what he’s actually saying, that dancing takes top spot for the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

    • It is a remarkable thing, to see a huge star so grossly wrong in their estimation of their talents. I dare you to watch his performance of Old Macdonald Had a Farm.

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