Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/15/2011, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at GWU Documentary Center
IT’S A GOOD thing everyone loves Dolly Parton, including me, because that simple fact earns this documentary a bonus star.
From Hollywood to Dollywood is the story of gay twins Gary and Larry Lane attempting to deliver their screenplay to Dolly Parton and — through some metaphysical process — earn the acceptance of their family. The film wants to be other things, as well: a gay road movie through the American heartland; a chronicle of gay lives in the modern (and not-so-modern) south; and a tribute to the inspiration Dolly brings to straight and gay alike.
But the sum is less than the parts. It feels like the Lanes hit the interstate with a road map but no real idea of how they would have an experience worth filming. They end up singing karaoke in an Arkansas gay bar that is well nigh empty other than a handful of people who look less than enthused at the intrusion. Far too many scenes involve Gary and/or Larry explaining their voyage to the locals for the umpteenth time.
Because nothing actually happens on this trip, it basically turns into the twins and one of their boyfriends sitting around shooting the shit about their families, politics and favorite Dolly songs — the same tipsy conversations you have with your friends after a late evening of drinks, and just as lackluster. But don’t feel bad for these guys. They’re not down-on-their-luck country boys seeking out a dream — they’re fairly well-connected Los Angeles residents (from North Carolina) who have the onscreen backing of Dustin Lance Black, Chad Allen, Leslie Jordan and others.
With no participation from their family and no response from Dolly on the script, there’s just no resolution. But there’s Dolly at the end, lighting up the screen in a film that isn’t even hers. That’s star power.