“We want extra Dollys on the planet,” is the message of this raucous however massively relaxing comedy, which, on the similar time, reminds us that there’s—and will best be—one Dolly Parton. The 76-year-old nation legend is having rather a second at SXSW this yr, arriving on the competition with a live performance to advertise her new album (and novel) Run, Rose, Run and her on-line NFT mission Dollyverse, whilst using a wave of public goodwill after her philanthropic enhance of the Covid vaccine with a $1 million donation.
Strangely, in spite of its matter’s bona fides as an all-time American icon, Significantly Purple hails from Australia, the rustic that gave us Strictly Ballroom (1992) and The Sapphires (2012). The residual affect of each movies will also be felt right here, however the template must be P.J. Hogan’s seminal Muriel’s Marriage ceremony, which made a celeb of Toni Collette in 1994. Directed through Gracie Otto, sister of actress Miranda and a prolific director of doctors, Significantly Purple may paintings equivalent wonders for celebrity/creator Krew Boylan, whose anarchic display screen presence remembers Grease-era Stockard Channing and a more youthful Catherine O’Hara.
Boylan performs Raylene ‘Purple’ Delaney, a chaotic redhead and Dolly Parton fan who works for a real-estate corporate as an evaluator, along her youth buddy Francis (Thomas Campbell). On the administrative center birthday celebration—the place she takes the invitation to “get dressed up” just a little too actually through arriving in a blonde wig and a rhinestone-studded outfit—she plays a knockout model of Parton’s anthemic “9 To five,” catches the attention of the night’s Elvis-lookalike host, and meets Enamel (Celeste Barber), who road-manages for an organization that specialize in famous person impersonators. Via Enamel, she meets the enigmatic giant boss Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), himself a former Neil Diamond tribute act, and units her points of interest on partnering as Dolly with Kenny (Daniel Webber), a method-acting Kenny Rogers clone who lives his idol’s lifestyles 24/7—and expects Purple to take action too.
Like Muriel’s Marriage ceremony it’s each an Unpleasant Duckling tale and a cautionary story about getting what you would like for, and whenever you’ve were given a care for on that, it’s simple to look what’s coming subsequent as Purple begins to really feel extra comfy in her pores and skin and the tale enters into acquainted romcom territory. Fortunately, Otto’s movie has greater than that to provide, and it’s the incidental main points that may most likely make this a cult favourite: on her adventure, Purple visits The Replica Membership, an underground speakeasy with Struggle Membership-style secrecy regulations the place Abba lookalikes rub shoulders with a Freddie Mercury wannabe, an uncanny Elton John doppelganger and an impressively vigorous plus-size Barbra Streisand.
Such alternatives for camp are taken at each flip, and despite the fact that the movie is for sure gay-friendly (a cameo through flamboyantly tacky Australian cabaret artiste Bob Downe at The Replica Membership testifies to that), the comedy is vast sufficient to paintings for audiences drawn through the promise of the track by myself, most commonly Dolly classics with an aspect order of kitsch. That mentioned, Dolly’s heartland fanbase would possibly no longer take too kindly to the movie’s saltier scenes, like Purple’s dressing-down at paintings when her boss, on firing her, describes her as “the lovechild of Mick Hucknall and Ronald McDonald—in the event that they banged”. In a similar fashion, the Neil Diamond devoted would possibly no longer admire the affectionate irreverence dished out to the singer, which culminates in a actually sudden laugh-out-loud second—a type of comedic jump-scare—when the deadpan Cannavale bursts into an earnest rendition of “I Am … I Mentioned” (“Did you ever examine a frog who dreamed of bein’ a king…?”).
Otto’s movie, her first narrative characteristic, would have have compatibility seamlessly into this yr’s Sundance, the place it might have sat simply in a International Dramatic slot and even perhaps labored as an offbeat Nighttime identify. SXSW, despite the fact that, is a great platform for it, given the competition’s musical roots. Certainly, roots play the most important section in Significantly Purple, significantly when our heroine starts to understand that so as to know the place you’re going, you will have to first know the place you’re from, and that to compete with the true Dolly Parton, you want to deliver your personal genre and character—no longer simply “a blonde wig and a bra filled with socks”.