The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (2011)

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Released 17-Jan-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary-Tara Johns (director) & Barbara Shrier (producer)
Gallery-Behind the Scenes Slide Show
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-25 + other Accent Titles
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 91:20
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tara Johns
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Gil Bellows
Dolly Parton
Julia Sarah Stone
Macha Grenon
Rebecca Croll
Will Woytowich
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (128Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Elizabeth (Julia Stone) is almost 12 and lives with her parents Marion (Macha Grenon) and Phil (Gil Bellows) in a sleepy town in Winnipeg in the 1970s. Her best friend Annabelle (Rebecca Windheim) lives across the road with her feminist mother Stella (Rebecca Croll) and father Ken (Trevor Hayes). The girls’ main interests are listening to Dolly Parton and worrying about when they will get their first period and develop breasts. Elizabeth’s is a happy existence with loving parents, but her world is shattered when she discovers that she is adopted.

     Under the current laws in the province, no-one, not the adoptive parents or the child, is permitted to learn the identity of the birth mother. Elizabeth becomes fixated with the idea that Dolly Parton is her real mother, so when she learns that Dolly will be performing just across the US border in Minneapolis, she runs away from home to meet her. Marion follows and finds Elizabeth, but rather than returning home the two embark on a road trip to Minneapolis, to attend the concert. On the journey both mother and daughter will have to address questions of identity and to determine the truth of their relationship.

     The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom comes from writer / director Tara Johns whose first feature this is although she has made TV documentaries such as The Secret Language of Girls (2005) and My Messy Bedroom (2001); the concentration upon about female issues is obvious! In The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom she has fashioned a sweet, life affirming film about identity and growing up, partly a coming of age film, partly a film about opportunities and partly about relationships between mothers and daughters. Men get little screen time, although they are portrayed in a positive light; there are no villains here. The film is aided by a wonderful, natural central performance by Julia Stone, although Macha Grenon is also very good as the mother with some demons of her own.

     The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom also benefits from the beautiful wide open spaces of the Winnipeg prairie and a fabulous soundtrack featuring the music of Dolly Parton, some songs performed by Dolly including Jolene, I Will Always Love You and Love is Like a Butterfly, while others are covered by other artists, including Nelly Furtado. With such music, it would have been easy for the original score by Luc Sicard to be overwhelmed, but to its credit it holds its own.

     The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is a low budget film from Canada. It is a sweet, life affirming film about identity and growing up, with good natural acting and a fabulous soundtrack featuring the music of Dolly Parton. I enjoyed this film far more than I had expected to.

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Transfer Quality


     The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a fairly soft print. Outdoor shots of the Winnipeg farming lands have natural, if muted colours, while indoor shots look overly bright and glary, effecting the skin tones which look pale (see the girls’ faces at 3:07 for an early example). The softness also affects the shadow detail, which can be indistinct, although blacks are generally good. There is minor ghosting with motion, and quite heavy film grain at times, but otherwise marks and artefacts were absent.

     There are no subtitles.

    A soft print overall, with overbright interiors. Otherwise there are no technical issues.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. The audio commentary is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 128 Kbps.

     Dialogue from the young girls near the beginning of the film was sometimes hard to hear, but the context was clear. Otherwise dialogue was easy to understand and centred. For a small, non-action film the surrounds were surprisingly effective. The music of course was a highlight in the surrounds but there was also frequent ambient sound, such as insects and birds, as well as some directional and panning effects for birds, vehicles and a train. The sub-woofer supported the music and the train sounds.

     Lip synchronisation was good.

     The original score by Luc Sicard is augmented by the music of Dolly Parton, some songs performed by her, others adaptations. This was a wonderful soundtrack, giving good support to the visuals. It is well presented in the sound mix.

    An excellent audio for a small film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     On start-up there were trailers for Bigfoot, Gabe – The Cupid Dog, Metal Tornado, Expecting Mary and Forks Over Knives that collectively run 11:30. A total of 25 trailers of Accent Film Entertainment releases can be selected from the menu - some, but not all, of the start-up trailers are repeated- and we do get a trailer for The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom included. There is a “play all” option.

Audio Commentary: Tara Johns (director) & Barbara Shrier (producer)

     Writer / director and producer sit together and provide some anecdotes about the production and discuss locations and the film’s themes and images. They also laugh, and make inane comments, and there were a lot of long silences. As the film audio track does not play under the commentary, there are a long periods of a silent screen. To me the two do not seem prepared, so this is not the most interesting of commentaries.

Behind the Scenes Slide Show (6:58)

     A slide show by Sue Chappel: the behind the scenes photographs advance automatically accompanied by music. Each picture is on screen for about 5 seconds – total running time for the approximately 80 slides is 6:58.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US version of The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is NTSC and listed as being in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not the original 1.85:1. The Region 2 UK version, from what I can see, seems technically the same as ours, but I am unsure about extras. Our Region All, PAL version is fine. Buy local.


     The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is a sweet, life affirming film about identity and growing up, with good natural acting and a fabulous soundtrack featuring the music of Dolly Parton.

     The video is soft but acceptable, the audio good. The audio commentary is the main extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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