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Review: 'Hollywood to Dollywood' for Dolly Parton fans only

The amiable and upbeat documentary about twins Gary and Larry Lane lacks a compelling reason to see it, unless you are a Dolly Parton zealot, which these two are.

September 06, 2012|By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
  • Mike Bowen, left, Larry Lane and Gary Lane sitting atop their RV dubbed Jolene at the Hollywood sign.
Mike Bowen, left, Larry Lane and Gary Lane sitting atop their RV dubbed Jolene… (John Lavin / Breaking Glass…)

Amiable and upbeat though it is, the documentary "Hollywood to Dollywood" lacks a compelling reason to see it. Unless you are a Dolly Parton zealot, which its two protagonists definitely are.

Twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane, originally from a small town in North Carolina but now bona-fide Hollywood residents, are devoted to Parton, both as a performer and as a nonjudgmental source of inspiration.

The twins are gay, but unlike Parton, their religious mother apparently does not accept them the way they are. For the last four years, they have put their "heart and soul" into a movie about their life, and they are bound and determined to have Ms. Parton star in it.

So they and Gary's partner, Mike Bowen, rent a massive RV they nickname Jolene and take off on a 2,200-mile, eight-state road trip down Interstate 40. Their destination? Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the site of Parton's amusement park, Dollywood. Their aim? To personally hand the script to Parton and hope that she agrees to be a part of it.

As directed by John Lavin, "Hollywood" unspools as the kind of agreeable home movie you might make if Dolly Parton were a part of your spiritual family.

The film features testimonials from various folks about Parton's great gifts, music from 15 of her songs, and clips from an extended TV interview she did with Larry King.

Before the trip begins, the twins show their script to "industry friends" such as actor Chad Allen and "Milk's" Oscar-winning screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, to get a sense of exactly what they have on their hands.

Though everyone is too polite to say so directly, if you read between the lines of what Black says, the script could at the very least use more work. Nothing daunted, the twins vow to work on it in the back of their RV and head off down the road.

And though the implication is that Gary and Larry are just two sweet guys who had this gee-whiz idea, the reality is a bit different. Though the film never says so directly, as the presence of those industry friends indicates, the twins are reality TV veterans who, their website attests, have "countless TV and movie appearances to their credit" and have even previously met Parton.

Before that hoped-for Dollywood reunion takes place, the film spends much of its time traveling with Gary, Larry and Mike, touring the American heartland. Some episodes, like surviving a major windstorm outside Amarillo, Texas, are not yet ready for prime time, but dropping in on "The Night of 1000 Dollys" in Knoxville, Tenn., is a treat. If you ever doubted that Parton was a force to be reckoned with, this film will ease your mind.

'Hollywood to Dollywood'

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood


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