Million Dollar Arm
Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has the idea to launch a reality TV contest in India that offers contestants the chance to land a Major League Baseball contract
A gospel choir on a losing streak try to decide whether to pep up their repertoire with some modern hits. Dolly Parton is in the pro-revisionist corner, Queen Latifah takes a more conservative view.
In 2003, we had Freddy versus Jason. In 2004, we had Alien versus Predator. Now, in 2012, Hollywood has seen fit to grace us with yet another titanic clash - except this time, the titans in question are the titans of sass. Welcome to Sass Of The Titans. And oh yes, Titans Will Sass. In the character of G.G. Sparrow, a would-be gospel choir leader jealous that she's been passed over in favour of Queen Latifah's newly appointed director Vi Rose Hill, Dolly Parton finds a role that fits her as snugly as her gospel choir robe - which has been specially tailored to hug her improbable figure.
The grande dame of spending a lot of money on looking as cheap as possible is a game gal. She totters through a churchified version of Usher's 'Yeah!' She sings a duet with the ghost of Kris Kristofferson. And she's in the firing line of some powerfully fierce lines from Latifah ("I'm old? You read the Bible the reminisce!" - the zing is strong with this one.) Luckily Parton gives as good as she gets, with some at times frankly nonsensical Deep South maxims that sound like someone's given a Kentucky version of a Magic 8 ball a good hard shake, jumbling its gnomic predictions into lines like: "You date that little girl, Vi Rose will just about lay square eggs."
The main plot, to do with whether the gospel choir will win some sort of pageant or whatnot, is as transparent as Dolly's foundation isn't. Who cares? It's all about the songs (which are belting) and the leading ladies (who belt out songs and one-liners with equal conviction). Unlike Parton's cantilevered physique, the film sags a bit in the middle, with the teen love story certainly not in any danger of knocking anyone out, also unlike Parton's cantilevered physique. If you've the slightest aversion to camp, you should obviously steer a million miles clear. But then this film was never for you. It's for the spiritual year-round inhabitants of Dollywood.
You know what you're getting if you sit down to watch this, and complaining about it is as fruitful as fretting that those stocks you bought in rhinestones aren't performing as well as your diamond shares.
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On Film4: 31 August 2014