1 December 2016 | vchimpanzee
Well done, inspiring
Once again, Dolly Parton's family is struggling. It is almost Christmas and the children's presents will total about $25. That's a lot of money for these people. But Dolly's mom won't get anything. She'd like the wedding ring at Mrs. Bass' store and Lee (who once called a ring just metal) would like to give it to her, but the family just doesn't have the money for something like that.
And it's time for the Christmas pageant. Dolly wants so much to be Mary and the other girl gets to do it every year. Her best friend Judy is expected to be the rear end of the donkey. But Dolly asks that Judy be the angel Gabriel, and it causes problems with their friendship since Judy seems to think Dolly is saying Judy isn't good enough for her.
Dolly does get the part of Mary, but Rudy is Joseph and that's not ideal. Judy does get to be Gabriel but it doesn't make her happy, and she and Dolly will have lessons to learn about friendship. Meanwhile, the patient Miss Moody takes Goody's headache powders, again and again.
The Parton kids figure out they can get their mom that ring if they sacrifice their Christmas gifts. And sell everything in sight. And if Dolly cleans Miss Moody's fabulous house (no, teachers aren't paid that well; it was her parents'). And if Dolly sings on the street--and of course we know she's very good. Uncle Billy comes for a visit and Lee does not approve of his way of making a living. Uncle Billy, a singer, reminds his sister Avie Lee that she could have been a celebrity if she had kept singing. And we do get to see she is really good as she performs with the family. And Uncle Billy wants to see Dolly get the chance her mom never had. Dolly will even skip school to do it. Lee won't hear of his daughter having that kind of life.
A new complication: a painted harlot appears dressed all in red with a red Thunderbird and way too much makeup. Mrs. Bass wants that sinful woman to go away. But she keeps coming back, giving Dolly encouragement and even money. Which Mrs. Bass takes away from the little girl because the money (apparently) came from sinful behavior. The painted angel, as Dolly refers to her, returns several times but is never anything but wonderful.
Lee can't get his truck to work and that means trouble for the family, since selling wood he has cut is the only source of income, unless he goes to the mine. There are good-paying jobs there, but it is dangerous work.
More sacrifices are made, more generous gifts given, more lessons learned about the true meaning of Christmas.
And so Christmas arrives. Has the family made enough money for the ring? Forget that. Lee is determined to provide for his family, so he makes that terrible choice. And the family has one crisis after another, and some of these are life-threatening. Will the family make it through? You know they will have to. But it's amazing to watch their mother go through being concerned and then stronger than she has ever had to be.
Once again, we get more wonderful performances. Alyvia Alyn Lind is the perfect young Dolly. When she sings in one scene I actually think I'm hearing the real Dolly.
Jennifer Nettles should have been Emmy nominated last year, but cable shows seem to get most of the nominations, and she's fantastic again but it just won't happen because last year was slightly more challenging.
Gerald McRaney is of course quite good as the preacher grandfather who is so grateful his son-in-law is finally on the right track. And the baptism scene is funny.
Mary Lane Haskell does an outstanding job as the patient teacher, who along with Dolly has an amazing scene in Miss Moody's house.
Hannah Nordberg does a good job as Dolly's best friend.
Farrah Mackenzie is so cute as young Stella, while the real Stella gives us a great performance as the snooty businesswoman who learns an important lesson.
And for someone who was once told she can't act (Her response I believe was something like "Honey I know I can't act. It's your job to make me look good."), well of course Dolly herself does a wonderful job essentially playing herself, but really acting as a sort of angel to her younger self.
The real Dolly also sings several nice songs. They wouldn't be among my choices for a Christmas music radio format. But here they were nice and I'm sure people would like them.
Have I left anyone out? They were all good.
Nothing here is really inappropriate for young kids, but I would be concerned about how some kids handle the life-threatening situations. It's pretty scary. But the way everyone handles what could have been disasters is nothing short of amazing. You know in a kids' movie things will have to work out.
It's a Christmas miracle that everything worked out. A wonderful and inspiring experience for the whole family, with real messages of faith.