Occasionally, I will fall in love with a character on the big screen because of the actor/actress playing them. That's not to say I wouldn't have enjoyed the movie, or the character, had a different actor been cast, but it's the actor that makes it go form like to love. In a rare case it makes me go from being in love, to being obsessed. It doesn't even have to be that great of a movie, or one that will change the hearts and minds of the general public, but it needs to entertain me. It needs to make me laugh out loud, hide my eyes in fear, or turn my head to keep someone from seeing me cry. If the movie, and the actor, can make me do all three things, it's even better. Not sure that's ever happened, but I'm looking forward to the day.
One of those not so great movies was Straight Talk, starring the delicious Dolly Parton. It's not groundbreaking, the writing isn't the best, but Dolly Parton as Shirlee Kenyon is all I needed to fall in love.
Shirlee is the typical small town girl. She is working a dead end job, is in a dead end relationship, and once she can't take it anymore, she packs it all up and is off to Chicago. Once there, she has not job prospects, and most importantly, no money. When you have to go out on the ledge of a bridge in order to safe your last bill, you are down on your luck. Through a big misunderstanding and even more smaller ones, Shirlee ends up on the radio. She is Chicago's newest talk radio host, and the city will never be the same again.
What makes Shirlee that small town girl, the folksiness and the advice that sounds like it's coming from your 90 year old grandmother, is what makes her a hit on the radio. She is so sweet, naive, and about as uncynical as you can get. She tells it like she sees it, and before long she's about to go national. The only issue, her boss has been promoting her as Dr. Shirlee, and she is definitely no doctor.
Shirlee, and by default Dolly, is the reason why this movie is so great. She goes through life with such heart, that's is hard to find anything wrong with the world while you are in her presence. I love her for many of the same reasons I fell in love with Celeste Talbert, another character in an okay movie, made great by the actress playing her, Sally Field. Of course, the fact that I can't help but laugh through the vast majority of my time spent with Shirlee endears her to my heart.