Rhinestone (1984) Bob Clark

Production Budget: $28 million

US Gross: $21 million (could only find US gross)

Jake (Dolly Parton) is a country music star who is stuck in a bad contract with sleazy club owner Freddie (Ron Leibman).  The two make a bet that she can turn any ordinary Joe into a country star in a week.  If Jake wins she tears up her contract, and if Freddie wins she has to sign a longer contract and sleep with him.  That ordinary Joe happens to be atonal cabbie Nick played by Sylvester Stallone.

Rhinestone seemed like a perfect movie to re-evaluate for this blog.  Everyone cites this as Stallone killing his career but I doubt hardly anyone has really seen it.  Trust me when I say I came into this movie with good intentions.  Heck, this was directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s, Christmas Story, Black Christmas) prior to him sucking (see the Baby Geniuses series).

The best thing I can say about Rhinestone is that despite the shitty origins (being based on the song Rhinestone Cowboy) it had the potential to be a really fun movie.  Its just a fish out of water story about a city slicker learning to become “country“ which, when you think about it, is a very familiar story.  This is actually my first time seeing Dolly Parton in an acting role and it is easy to see why she had success.  She has a ton of personality, is a great singer, and is very attractive.  Parton steals every scene she is in an almost pulls off the task of making this movie somewhat likable.

And then Sylvester Stallone comes into the movie.  Look I love Stallone; I honestly do.  I can even see why producers thought he would be right for this role. You need someone who can be both a hunky leading man and an ordinary schlub and Rocky pretty much fits the bill on both counts.  So I am not just bashing Stallone because it is the easy thing to do.  I am bashing Stallone because he legitimately sucks in this movie.

The main problem is this comedy really needed a straight man.  The comedy from this movie is supposed to spring from the fact this ordinary guy is taken out of his comfort zone to the backwoods of Tennessee (or wherever) and forced to mingle with the goofy yokels in order to become like them.  The supporting characters are supposed to be goofy and the situations Nick are supposed to be in are supposed to be wacky, but Nick is not supposed to be wacky.  That is the problem.  Nick is chewing up tons more scenery than the rest of the cast which I would have thought impossible but scene after scene he is howling out his lines and bouncing off the walls.  He goes way beyond trying to hard to “get off my fucking television“ type annoyance.

It so doesn’t help that in this musical comedy, Sylvester Stallone can’t sing.  At all.  Part of the story should be this caterpillar to butterfly aspect where Nick can’t sing but by the time he gets on the big stage he should sound awesome.  In Rhinestone when Stallone has his big coming out, he honestly sounds ten times worse than when he started.  A medal should be given to Dolly Parton for trying to carry Stallone because you can see her straining to try to drown out Stallone’s grunting but with no luck.  I can’t stress to you how painful it actually is to hear the pretty singing of Parton contrasted to the caveman Rocky grunts Stallone forces out as if a melody is something he should hit like a heavy bag.  I was so thankful the credits started rolling despite Stallone doing an encore number because it meant I could mercifully shut off the movie at that point.

Rhinestone ends up being a bad film but I still don’t consider it among Stallone’s worst.  I’m not sure what that says about the quality of Stallone’s works.  As I said the premise had potential, some of the situations are charming, and Dolly Parton really tries to make this a movie of her own.  Unfortunately the plot is really thin, the writing doesn’t capitalize on the comedic elements of the story, and Stallone is absolutely dreadful in the supporting role.  Something tells me I should have avoided the fake jewel that is the Rhinestone for something more real like Nine to Five.


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