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A country girl accidentally becomes Chicago's hottest talk radio celebrity! With her homespun wit and down-home advice, Shirlee Kenyon wins listeners' hearts . . . and the heart of investigative reporter Jack Russell. But when Jack discovers the hidden secret to her success, it jeopardizes both her newfound celebrity status and their future togethe
For more about Straight Talk and the Straight Talk Blu-ray release, see Straight Talk Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 9, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dolly Parton, James Woods, Griffin Dunne, Michael Madsen, Jane Lynch, Teri Hatcher
» See full cast & crew
Straight Talk Blu-ray Review
Straight to the Blu-ray bargain bin.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 9, 2011
The quickest way to forget your problems is to listen to somebody else's.
A Fairy Tale by definition must have a happily-ever-after ending, but it doesn't necessarily have to follow the same "fall in love with a prince" motif, and it certainly doesn't have to involve a tall tower and dragons and swords and damsels in distress. How about a Fairy Tale that's about someone rescuing herself? How about a Fairy Tale where love comes from the heart rather than as a byproduct of courageous actions? How about a Fairy Tale with more than one happy ending? How about a Fairy Tale set in modern times? Dolly Parton's Straight Talk is an unconventional Fairy Tale, but a Fairy Tale nevertheless about not making it big in the world, but making it big inside, about finding a calling, and letting true love develop on its own accord through honesty, dialogue, and time rather than coming in riding on a white horse. Straight Talk isn't a particularly good or bad movie; it's quite mediocre, in fact, but it's at least charming and sincere, even if it plays out more like fantasy than reality. Isn't that the definition of "escapist entertainment?"
Shirlee Kenyon (Dolly Parton) has a big mouth. She's always yapping, trying to help others with their problems, but time is money and her loquacious ways have just gotten her fired from a small-town dance studio. Out of a job, her dreams on life support, and her life on hold, she ditches her jobless boyfriend Steve (Michael Madsen) and heads off to Chicago in search of a new lease on life. She's turned down time and again for even the most trivial of jobs, but she catches her big break when she yaps her way into a receptionist gig at Chicago's struggling AM talker, 1190 WNDY. No sooner does she start the job, she's mistaken by the technical staff for a new hostess brought in to boost ratings. Shirlee finds herself on the air and is an instant hit for her charming demeanor and no-nonsense advice. Never mind that she doesn't have any credentials; with her ratings through the roof, the station grooms her to be the next big thing in talk radio, falsifying her background and paying her more money than she knows what to do with. Meanwhile, she finds herself falling for a local journalist named Jack Russell (James Woods), exactly the type of a guy a woman such as herself, riding a wave of success on a wing and a prayer, would probably be smart to avoid. Can true love withstand the scrutiny of her true past, and can straight talk win over the hearts of listeners around the city?
Straight Talk is fun and fluffy and light and easy, a movie built on emphasizing its ups and feel-good nature, wading through only those downs that are absolutely necessary to prop the story up all the higher. The roller coaster never dips very low, crawling up and and up and up, dipping only a fraction, and climbing exponentially higher until it reaches its metaphorical maximum height at the feel-good finale. What, did anyone really think Shirlee's career would fall off the tracks and crash and burn, or that she wouldn't find true love as the perfect end to her fantastically unlikely rise to the top? Straight Talk isn't that kind of movie. It's comfort food prepared at 24 frames per second. It's good for the soul in moderate quantities, and Director Barnet Kellman's film doesn't allow audiences to overindulge on its figurative sweetness. It's just fine the way it is, a tasty little concoction meant to boost its audience's collective inner strengths and personal ambitions, and that the film centers on a talk radio show that dishes out perfectly-measured little doses of advice makes the film's greater purpose as sugary cinematic medicine work all the better and go down all the smoother.
Straight Talk is just fine from a thematic point-of-view, but harder-to-please viewers who might not be content with the film's simplicities may be disappointed not only in the cozy little redundant structure, but in the stiffness that exists around the periphery. Indeed, Straight Talk just might be a little too formulaic for some tastes. It's a movie best enjoyed when one is in the right kind of mood, in need of a boost, or wishing to see that the world might not always be such a bad place, even if it takes a modern-day Fairy Tale crafted by a bunch of people already living "the dream" to prove otherwise. Straight Talk features a pretty good cast who play along with the easy-breezy tone and keep the picture firmly grounded in its feel-good simplicity. The acting can be a bit stiff at first, but things loosen up quite a bit throughout; by film's end, it's impossible not to love the characters. They're well-developed, at least to the point that they fully embrace and enhance the story's basic themes. The direction is point-and-shoot easy, smartly allowing the story and the actors to bring it to life, and the film is rounded into form by several catchy Dolly Parton tunes that each play right into the feeling of every scene they accompany.
Straight Talk Blu-ray, Video Quality
Straight Talk's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is, at worst, sufficient, and at best, nice-looking. The print at first appears a bit tattered and dull, but cleans up nicely once Shirlee arrives in Chicago. Detail ranges from acceptable to strong; building fašades and little odds and ends around the city and in the WNDY studios are appealing. Clothing textures are decent, but faces tend to look a little pasty and smooth. Light-to-moderate grain is retained over the image, but a few shots look a little too smoothed over. Edge halos are occasionally visible, as are a few bouts of background blockiness, but banding is minimal and print damage is of only minor concern once the film moves past its opening title sequence. Clarity is quite good, and softness is never a problem. Colors are neutral, never looking unnaturally vibrant or excessively dull. However, flesh tones generally feature a decidedly red push, and blacks waver between looking slightly washed out and exhibiting a hint of crush. This isn't really a bad transfer at all; it's not Blu-ray's best, that's for sure, but it certainly passes as a fair high-def image.
Straight Talk Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Straight Talk chatters up a DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. "Adequate" probably best describes it. There's not much to it outside of music; whether Dolly Parton's toe-tapping tunes or Brad Fiedel's smooth score, Mill Creek's lossless presentation handles both with ease, even without the added benefit of a wider 5.1 mix. Both songs and score enjoy fine clarity and excellent spacing; Parton's lyrics remain firmly entrenched in the center speaker, but the accompanying music often spreds out to the edges of the soundstage. There are only a few "heavy" sound effects in the movie, notably the rumble of a newspaper printing press as heard in chapter thirteen and a cacophony of honking horns in the film's final moments. Both could use some more heft and clarity, but the effects certainly get the job done. Otherwise, this is a dialogue-intensive film -- no surprise given it's about a radio talk show host -- and this lossless track handles the spoken word with the necessary clarity the material demands. Straight Talk doesn't deliver a reference-grade soundtrack, but it rates as "satisfactory" across the board, even considering the limited 2.0 configuration.
Straight Talk Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Straight Talk contains no extras.
Straight Talk Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Straight Talk is a straight-up fun little movie that's not exactly a classic, but it is pretty much perfect for what it is and aspires to be. Its only ambition is to please its audience with a straightforward modern-day Fairy Tale, and the movie is pleasantly watchable even if the whole thing plays as if one giant fantasy coming true after another. It's a completely harmless movie about the importance of honesty in both what people say and who they claim to be. It also says that it doesn't always take a degree to lend a hand, open an ear, or speak a few words of encouragement. Straight Talk isn't for everyone -- the movie certainly has its flaws that exist around its periphery, and it's certainly far too sweet for all tastes -- but it's hard to deny that this is meaningfully innocent moviemaking done right. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Straight Talk features a decent technical presentation and no supplements. Worth a purchase given the bargain pricing. Recommended.
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Straight Talk Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Wave from Mill Creek in May - March 25, 2011
On May 10, Mill Creek Entertainment will release 11 movies on Blu-ray: Betsy's Wedding, Big Business, Consenting Adults, Gross Anatomy, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, An Innocent Man, The Marrying Man, Money For Nothing, My Father the Hero, Straight Talk, and ...
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