Dir. Barnett Kellman. USA. 1992.

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Shirlee Kenyon (Dolly Parton), leaves her no-good boyfriend Steve (Michael Madsen) after she gets fired from her job as a dance teacher, for talking too much. She heads to the bright lights of Chicago, and inadvertently lands herself a job as a radio agony aunt, after getting confused for a psychologist who never showed up. The station gives her her own show, a pink Mercedes and a new, flashy apartment, but Shirlee is uncomfortable with having to pretend to be a genuine psychologist, and is under mounting pressure as her show gets increasingly popular and eventually goes national. The affections of an undercover reporter (James Woods), on the lookout for his next big story add to the tension.

Okay, maybe not tension. This is a Dolly Parton film after all, and you know everything’s going to be alright in the end. However, being predictable does not stop a film being an enjoyable watch. 'Straight Talk', although no 'Steel Magnolias', is a frothy, lovely laugh. Much like its protagonist, the film is joyous and fun, and full of female empowerment and good advice.

Parton, is actually a very good actress, and because of her usual joie de vivre is particularly affecting when she has been disappointed and upset. Woods is hit and miss as her love interest Jack; he handles the comedy well (as you would expect), but looks a little uncomfortable with the romantic parts. Griffin Dunne is a highlight as Shirlee's single-minded boss, Alan. 'Straight Talk' also features Teri Hatcher in one of her last parts before 'Lois and Clark', playing a character spookily similar to her role as Susan on Desperate Housewives.

It's kitsch, it's campy, it's predictable, but it will leave you smiling and happy, and with all the advice Shirlee gives out, you just might learn something!

Chloe Walker

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