In the new film, Joyful Noise, out Friday, Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah play rival gospel singers in a small town in Georgia (watch trailer below). The movie is getting mixed reviews, with many critics zeroing in on a pivotal issue: Parton's noticeable plastic surgery. What's all the commotion about?
It impedes her acting abilities: As unwilling as I am to criticize an actor's appearance, "Parton's starched visage leaves her unable to achieve the most basic duty of an actor: expression," says Elizabeth Weitzman at the New York Daily News. Worse, the film itself makes her face an issue: Plenty of its jokes mock her plastic surgery, and they are "regrettably" catty. Thankfully, "Latifah is able to carry the movie with a characteristic blend of grace and sensibility," but the talented actress deserves better than this movie.
"Joyful Noise too loud, slapstick to do justice to its stars, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton"
And the facial tweaks are unrealistic for Parton's character: Not only are the plastic surgery jokes "too cruel," says Roger Ebert at his blog, it's unlikely Parton's character would be so fake-looking. She plays G.G., a widowed waitress in a "poverty-stricken" southern town. How could such a character afford all those alterations?
But at least she has a sense of humor about it: "I'll admit that seeing her with so much plastic surgery done is a bit hard to watch, especially on the big screen," says Scott Chitwood at Comingsoon.net. "But I give credit to Parton — she laughs at herself." Much of the poorly written film doesn't work, but at least the jokes at Parton and her plastic surgery's expense help to break the tension and assure the audience she doesn't take herself too seriously.
And she's still Dolly: Her must recent plastic surgeries are unfortunate — "it's as if Parton did her last work in a drive-through... in a hurry," says Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune. Still, it's impossible to resist her charms. "Her vocals hold up, and that 4-foot-11-inch frame remains like no other human's, whatever the component parts."
"Joyful Noise: Dolly and the Queen make familiar music — 2 stars"
Check out Parton's controversial appearance for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- California's epic drought
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
Subscribe to the Week