‘Seriously Red’ Movie Review [SXSW 2022]: Dolly Parton Comedy Gets Lost in Its Dolly-Isms

Seriously Red taps into the rarely explored world of celebrity impersonation. Gracie Otto directs a comedic screenplay written by Krew Boylan that provides light entertainment. Seriously Red contains sweet, worthwhile lessons from Dolly Parton that the world could truly use, but the film itself isn’t particularly impactful.

‘Seriously Red’ enters the world of celebrity impersonators

'Seriously Red' Bobby Cannavale as Wilson and Krew Boylan as Red looking into each other's eyes in front of a bunch of pictures on the wall
L-R: Bobby Cannavale as Wilson and Krew Boylan as Red | Kane Skennar/SXSW

Raylene ‘Red’ Delaney (Boylan) is a vibrant and eccentric person who works a typical 9-to-5 career in real estate. However, she finds that the work bores her. Red decides to trade her day job in to try her hand at celebrity impersonation as Parton. However, she realizes that it’s a risk that her mother might not support her in.

The title character in Seriously Red scores a critical gig with a Kenny Rogers impersonator (Daniel Webber). As a result, a romance blossoms. However, Red begins to lose herself in the Parton image. She must find herself if she hopes to continue growing toward her idea of happiness in the future.

Director Gracie Otto tells a story through Dolly Parton lessons

Seriously Red introduces the film’s status quo, where nobody takes Red seriously. She wins the clown award at a work event, but still tries to embrace the title and provide an energetic environment with her Parton imitation. Red has difficulty with authority and ultimately loses her job, but when she’s in character as Parton, she gains a considerable amount of self-confidence.

Red finds herself in a club full of impersonators, as she finally found a craft where her peers will take her seriously. Seriously Red chronicles a romantic relationship with Kenny, which begs the question: do they still have feelings for one another outside of their characters? It’s all about taking chances, even if folks like Red’s mother don’t approve of her major life choices.

Seriously Red tells its story through a collection of Parton sayings and quotes. They compliment the story and often motivate Red to keep pushing forward, even when things appear grim. Boylan wants the audience to not take things so seriously, while also displaying bravery in vulnerability. The screenplay pulls Parton’s life lessons into a narrative that follows one of her biggest fans.

‘Seriously Red’ is a light, yet scattered indie comedy

Otto’s direction certainly takes Parton’s words of wisdom to heart. Seriously Red never takes itself very seriously, making the lively soundtrack a part of the narrative. Parton’s “Touch Your Woman” plays during one of the movie’s most surreal, dreamlike sequences.

Red isn’t always the most likable character, but Boylan brings a certain brightness to the film in the lead role. She’s consistently authentic, even when the character makes some truly oddball decisions. Meanwhile, Rose Byrne is a humorous addition to the film as an Elvis Presley impersonator. Audiences likely never would have guessed to see her in such a role, but here we are – the world is better for it.

Seriously Red is essentially a movie about the lessons of Parton. The narrative occasionally gets lost trying to remain linked to the sayings and messages of the star. As a result, the movie becomes a tad scattered and runs too long. Seriously Red is harmless pop entertainment, but it evidently wants to be so much more than it is.

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