THE YEAR DOLLY PARTON WAS MY MOM (Tara Johns). 95 minutes. Opens Friday (March 18). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
There are a few good moments in The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom, but you have to get past a lot of distractions to appreciate them.
The feature debut of Montreal writer/director Tara Johns tells the story of Elizabeth (Julia Stone), an 11-year-old in 1976 Manitoba who discovers she's adopted and concludes - through parsing song lyrics - that Dolly Parton is her birth mother.
When Elizabeth takes off on her bicycle to meet Dolly at a concert in Minneapolis, her adoptive mother (Macha Grenon) goes chasing after her and - wouldn't know you it? - they both learn a little something along the way.
The actors are appealing and the music is great, but Johns pads the slender story out to feature length with distracting subplots about the changing cultural landscape and a wince-inducing interlude in which a kindly short-order cook helps Elizabeth find her spirit animal. This would have been much stronger at a third the length.