on January 8, 2013
STRAIGHT TALK  [Blu-ray] Irresistible! Thumbs Up! Dreams Do Come True . . . Sometimes!
Dolly Parton [`9 to 5' and `Steel Magnolias'] and James Wood [`The Hard Way'] star in this light-hearted romantic comedy, about a country girl who accidentally becomes Chicago's talk radio celebrity! With her homespun wit and down-home advice, Shirley Kenyon [Dolly Parton] wins listener's hearts . . . and the heart of investigative reporter Jack Russell [James Wood]. But when Jack discovers the hidden secret of her success, it jeopardises both her newfound celebrity status and their future together. Filled with romance, charm and heart-warming humour and of course `Straight Talking' is totally pure entertainment!
FILM FACT: Dolly Parton composed ten original songs for the film soundtrack, including a re-recording of her 1976 "Light of a Clear Blue Morning."
Cast: Dolly Parton, James Woods, Griffin Dunne, Michael Madsen, Deirdre O'Connell, John Sayles, Teri Hatcher, Spalding Gray, Jerry Orbach, Amy Morton, Philip Bosco, Charles Fleischer, Keith MacKechnie, Jay Thomas, Paula Newsome, Tracy Letts, John Gegenhuber, Ralph Foody, Robin Eurich, Jeff Garlin, Paul Dinello, Barnet Kellman, Robert Kurcz, Ray Toler, Michael Oppenheimer, Michael Jeffrey Woods, Alan Wilder and Roger Christiansen
Director: Barnet Kellman
Producers: Carol Baum, Fred Berner, Robert Chartoff and Howard Rosenman (executive producer)
Screenplay: Craig Bolotin and Patricia Resnick
Composers: Brad Fiedel and Dolly Parton
Cinematography: Peter Sova
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Dolby Digital
Running Time: 91 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Coming off a successful string of hits including [`9 to 5' and `Steel Magnolias’] Dolly Parton took a chance with `Straight Talk,' as she hadn't carried a film which was designed to be more of a mainstream romance. Luckily she once again found herself gifted with talented co-stars who helped share the burden. Dolly Parton was fortunate enough to work with the always engaging James Woods and Griffin Dunne.
`Straight Talk' is definitely a product of its time. In today's culture of oversaturation, one area that's definitely not exempt is talk shows. People are famous simply for being famous and everyone blogs ad nauseam about their days. Thus a film that combines talk shows and mistaken identities simply wouldn't fly. Not only that but we love nothing more than to see our heroes fall off their pedestals. Any movie made today which even attempted to tackle similar subject matter would need to include the main character being humiliated. And what really dates the film is the key plot point: Dolly Parton being mistaken for a doctor, which our society long ago gave up demanding as criteria for talk show hosts.
The fact that `Straight Talk' is so obviously a 1990s film is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. It has a definite re-watchable factor that ties directly to when it was made. For all that the movie rests on a case of mistaken identity, it's still an amazingly straightforward story, one with lessons which bear repeating and continue to surface in other films. While a film like `Runaway Bride' which offers up the same morals, meaning be true to yourself, sometimes a fresh start is the best ending there is, and love will find a way which may have made a lot more money, I love watching `Straight Talk' due entirely to its performances.
Dolly Parton carries this film, eminently believable as a small town woman who likes to forget her own problems by listening to others. She is evenly matched with James Woods, who offers a performance the tone of which I've never seen him, duplicate. Outside of Hades in Disney's Hercules, this may be my favourite of his roles. Through facial expressions alone, he's able to portray the genuine struggle his character goes through when he finds himself falling for the subject of his investigation. However, even the bit parts are cast well; from a cameo by Teri Hatcher [‘Desperate Housewives’] to a small supporting role by Jerry Orbach [‘Law and Order’]. No one chews scenery or acts above what their character calls for. Thus the script is allowed the best chance to duplicate the screenwriter's original vision.
And while some may complain that ‘Straight Talk’ is merely a vehicle for Dolly Parton's songs and 10 of which appear in the film and on the soundtrack and I didn't find their placement too be jarring or that this was a step away from a musical. Let's face it; Dolly Parton is always going to be known as a singer, who we love to bits, and the fact that she wrote the songs specifically for the film, helps make their additions more cohesive. Plus, they blended so well with Brad Fiedel's film score.
Blu-ray Video Quality – `Straight Talk' comes to Blu-ray with a very nice 1080p encoded video presentation. This is another brilliant licensed release from Mill Creek Entertainment, especially as the film looks quite good in high-definition. The clarity and improvement is obvious, there is definitely no confusing it for standard-definition. Even weaker looking moments still feature a notable level in improvement. Colours are pleasing and black levels remain solid throughout. Detail isn't always the sharpest, but it is definitely easy to appreciate in the majority of the scenes. The film isn't visually stunning, but it certainly doesn't look bad either. Overall I think this is a respectable transfer that will at least please fans of the film. I've never seen the film look better, so I don't know how much better it could look than this. Overall I think Mill Creek Entertainment a very fine good job with the transfer, with no serious issues to report.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included, but the printed information on the back cover lists the release with a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio, but rest assured that it was simply a mistake. Like with other titles in the Mill Creek Entertainment catalogue, no subtitle options are included. While 2.0 audio isn't exactly something to get excited about, I am very appreciative that Mill Creek Entertainment managed to include a high-definition audio track. The film relies very little on surround sound effects, so I wasn't too upset when a 5.1 mix was not included, but it would have been nice if they had included it. Dialogue is of highest priority in the film and sounds quite clear throughout. The film's music also has some nice clarity throughout. Audio effects from the film manage to satisfy, though nothing special. Overall this is a very solid mix, which I don't think could sound much better.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Sadly there is no extras have been included, which is a great shame, as I am sure there was some behind-the-scene outtakes available or even interviews with some of the cast.
Finally, `Straight Talk' earns a solid Blu-ray release from Mill Creek Entertainment. The video and audio presentations are certainly satisfying, and at times impressive. Overall this Blu-ray release is well "worth a look" to any fan of this film and of course the brilliant Dolly Parton. The pricing on the release is totally fantastic value. While studios won't be remaking `Straight Talk' anytime soon, this feel-good film doesn't rely on anything flashy, but it rides on the talents of its cast and at a bargain basement price, you would grin a lot from this wonderful film and it has gone pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on May 12, 2011
This low brow Dolly Parton romantic comedy pits her as an annoyingly honest yet witty and street smart high school dropout that has a knack for giving "straight talk" advice who moves away from her lazy boyfriend (played by actor Michael Madson in his quest for a much needed paycheck) in a small town to head for a better career and life in Chicago. Once there she "accidentally" becomes put on as a talk radio show host as someone who gives advice to callers with problems, by a newsroom that thinks she's a doctor who was supposed to be starting that day but conveniently did not show up. So they suppose she's the doctor. Such luck for just stepping into a different room to get a cup of coffee. Oh, but the cheesy far-fetched cliches don't end there. Yup, you can guess what happens - the people love her, the radio execs recruit her.
In enters James Woods (who looks and acts terribly as a news reporter who's so uncomfortably creepy to watch as a romantic "lead" you understand why he's never played that role since) as the 'love interest' who just happens to always be at the right place at the right time, and proceeds to court Dolly Parton, or Dr. Shellie Kenyan (can I just insert how ridiculous the name sounds please) so that he can get story to seek out the "dirt" on her and expose her to the world (she's not a doctor, she's not educated, etc) but then predictably falls for her, then must decide between his career and her. ....He picks her. ...don't be upset that I told you, you knew it was coming.
Then enters the ex-boyfriend who just happens to come looking for her yet the script writers could not seem to come up with good enough material for him, so the ex just sort of reveals who Woods really is and is never heard from again. Hey, at least Michael Madson gets paid.
*humorous smile* *sigh breath* anyway, then we get the typical scene where she gives away her real identity and past on the radio because she just can't take being dishonest anymore! She's been lying to everyone! *sarcasm* While she does say this, the film gives no reason for her to, and any typical human being would just keep going at it considering the complete lack of friction she's faced during her entire stint as a psychologist radio talk show host who isn't really a psychologist. It's ridiculous that someone giving this type of advice could even GET a real career on talk radio... but the movie does that to showcase her "realness." If things became any more convenient for Sherrie I think we wouldn't have a good enough movie. .... oh wait, that's right, we DON'T have a good enough movie, but we do HAVE a movie, so we might as well watch it.
While Straight Talk is just filled with completely far-fetched situations that would be handled VERY differently if this were the case in 2011, this does entertain, even just barely, for its 90 minute time length. What keeps you interested? Well, it's not boring, so much as it is just plain cliche and dumb. I think the term "blonde" can be used here. It's like the film took every romantic comedy textbook movie cliche and compressed them all into this film, and didn't even do them WELL at that. Once again, Dolly Parton's breasts are the stars of the show, not to also mention her irritatingly "good girl" demeanor who surprisingly always seems to waste her time on lousy boyfriends. Well, that is until James Woods came along and very very easily sweeps her off her feet (in case you need me to tell you, their chemistry on screen is eye-rollingly vomit inducing... or shall I just be nice and say utterly and completely non-existent?)
I bought this because it was at a very low bargain clearance bin price at a local retailer, otherwise I would never have even bothered. You've seen this movie a million times before, there's no need to see it again. I feel a bit bad if I'm really ragging on this, but I do it with a slight smile. Dolly is a charming and sweet lady, and considering she wrote numerous songs for this movie, it did mean a lot to her, and you can tell she really does try with her performance, so good for her. It's just too bad the material she was given is just so laughably dumb. Sorry Dolly, you're a sweetheart but I'm just being honest.
P.S. To James Woods - please, PLEEEEEAASE do not ever play a romantic lead again. Your portrayal reminded me of a horny 17 year old trapped in the body of a 45 year old man.
Technical aspects: The movie provides NO extras whatsoever. You get 2 modes: Play movie and scene selection. That's it. As far as the Blu-ray transfer, it doesn't look abysmal and I've seen worse, but you can still make out plenty of burn spots from the original theatrical film. Yes it's fairly clean for Blu-ray, but still terrible for what we expect in Blu-ray quality. If you need to get it, just get the DVD. I understand it is difficult to put these old movies into a high definition remastering, but it is really only worth it for movies that are, well, worth it. One example being The Neverending Story. Old movie with a very beautiful transfer.