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SXSW REVIEW: “SERIOUSLY RED” (2022) Roadshow Films

“It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World” – Dolly Parton

Director Gracie Otto makes a bold choice and opens her film “SERIOUSLY RED”, with a terrific and unorthodox lead into to her main character, Raylene or “Red” (Krew Boylan), as we come to know her. She captures her sitting in the bathtub while on a real estate client call, drinking a glass of wine with ice in it. The call reflects this perfectly, and it is as well, the perfect introduction to a character and story that will take us down so many different roads of life as we watch, often predicting what will happen before we see it.

The aptly named Red – due to the gorgeous red hair she was born with, has been fixated on one celebrity in particular her whole life – Dolly Parton. The obsession rolls to the point of going to her company awards banquet dressed as Dolly, which in turn leads to a karaoke performance one will not soon forget. But deep down, Red is a woman with low self-esteem, thanks in part sadly due to her mother Viv (Jean Kittson), with whom she can’t seem to please. Red has pursued this, that and the other, her whole life, with nothing being truly successful in any of them, and can now add Real Estate to that list of things, as she gets fired. But within this crazy evening Red has discovered the world of impersonators, in no thanks to a fantastic Elvis (Rose Byrne), and set’s off to pursue her dream of becoming a Dolly Parton impersonator.

After meeting a talent scout Teeth (Celeste Barber), who has a story about her own name that needs to be heard to be believed, the rest of story follows Red as she first discovers this whole new world of messy artist impersonators. She goes full tilt when meeting Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), who himself was once a Neil Diamond impersonator, and still looks it. Red hits it hard going from a fair, homemade karaoke singer to actually fully immersing herself into Dolly, and not just the big wig, heavy make-up, and frilly costumes, but to some darned fine singing as well. She takes it one step further and falls in love with a Kenny Rogers impersonator named, if you want to believe him, Kenny (Daniel Webber). Losing herself completely though is costly and not just for the implants she gets as well, but for the loss of one of her truest childhood friends, Francis (Thomas Campbell), as he begins to question her losing any identity of her actual self.

But oh this journey is fun at moments, it’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s sad and it’s so heartfelt as you really get a good look inside this entire world of impersonators. With it always being said celebrities have influence, you see just how it can be fun, but also how it can go completely overboard and overblown in someone’s life. The acting here is sublime by Boylan who hasn’t been seen much out of her home country of Australia and note is given here to the native lands and those whom live on them by her as well. As well as acting, Boylan wrote the screenplay, got Rose Byrne to do an amazing Elvis, and Bobby Cannavale, while being the only American in the film, belts out an “I Am.. I Said” as Neil Diamond that will have you up and singing along.

At the end, Red will also reflect on her own life choices, learn to trust herself, and find her way through her crazy journey of life. ‘Seriously Red’ is a story with heart and soul threading throughout it’s journey – it’s fun along with being an oh-so-charming of a watch. And remember to always ALWAYS: “Be Yourself Because Everyone is taken.” – Dolly Parton

Grade: B+

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Wow..yep..WOW.. Are you wondering if I am referring to the movie or to Zac Efron’s super hottness…Well it could be both as WOW I am really bummed this movie wasn’t funnier and WOW, yes Zac Efron looks simply, absolutely WOW in this movie.  And Dave Franco is right behind him! ha! 

As for the movie, well I’m not gonna lie..I really thought it was going to be waaaaay more funny. I was hoping for it..really reaaaaallly wanting it to be laugh out loud, drop dead funny..and well..it’s not.  The mere fact they said ‘This generations ‘Animal House’ gave me hope. The premise is good, the trailer has you thinking it can be make you laugh..a lot, but sadly, it doesn’t.  Does it have some really funny moments..yeah it’s got a few, but about as many as a 1/2 hour sitcom. And that bummed me out.   

Seth Rogan (Mac Radner) and Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner) are decent enough as the couple with a baby who find out that a Frat House has moved next door.  They try to be that ‘cool’ couple who can still hang with the college crowd and in the beginning that gave it some good funny moments.  Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) & Dave Franco (Pete) are the President and VP of the Frat House which is of course like every Frat House you’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies, one big huge party house.  The plot thickens (no, not really, it doesn’t, I’m just messing with you here cause you know exactly what’s going to happen next) and the neighbors began a pretty bad prank-fest on each other with some really tacky, unfunny gags including the usual butt gags etc.  A few are funny, but not uproariously so, which I was hoping for and to be honest, expecting.   There is one funny party scene where Mac & Kelly, along with their divorced couple friends, Ike Barinholtz (Jimmy) & Carlo Gallo (Paula) turn the tables on the Frat House and while it could be considered mediocre in a good comedy, it was the high point here. That and the ‘Robert De Niro’ scene are really the only high points of this whole comedic flop. :/ 

So all in all, I was hoping for something I really didn’t get..laughter.. ah well.. Zac Efron shirtless will just have to do for now. 

Grade: C-