Most of what I've heard about this movie before is from Kearney, because he is from Nashville and has talked about loving it and growing up with people talking about it and knowing people who were extras in it. He recently told me of being confronted with his early perceptions being a little askew. When he had seen it before, he had associated most closely with Opal, the journalist from the BBC. It was his hometown and he saw the locals as he experienced it: lots of backwardassness and self important people full of shit. Not that different from how many of us judged our hometowns as teenagers back when we knew everything, but perhaps carrying more of his projection than how the movie itself presented the characters. He then saw Opal as this sophisticated outsider moving around through all these local morons. Sharing this with friends, having not seen the movie in years, someone finally pointed out to him that in the movie she is the small-minded idiot, more bitch buffoon than any of the locals. So he rewatched it, and realized that they were right, she was a horrible person. He has been telling people for years that he was this character and only now realizes that he's been self identifying with a jackass the whole time. I of course love shit like this.
This also encouraged me to play the if-we-were-who-would-we-be game. I was already running though my mind, "Well, if he isn't the journalist, then which character is he?" so it was a short leap to trying to peg other friends as other characters. Actually, I really just look forward to telling Kearney that he is the waitress that can't sing. Traditionally, this game was played with me, Mason, Liz, Lisa, and John back in college. We would then suck in anyone around us, and in the heyday usually drew in Dean, Michael, Preot, Vanessa, Brock, and anyone else close enough to tease. According to tradition, John and I were always assigned two polar opposite characters, usually friendly rivals. Which in this case would make me Barbara Jean and him Connie White. Actually, at this point everyone else objects and points out that I have it backwards because I like Barbara Jean more. Which is true. Of these two, I'd be Connie, because I'm always the hussier of the two options and I'd look good in that red dress and be more likely to sing on a stage in a hotel bar with a post in the center of the stage, and it is remarkably easy to imagine him in that white dress (looking at photos friends seem to have dredged up recently to post on Facebook, perhaps i could sport the white dress. Speaking of these terrible pictures, there is actually one of me in red which would complete the set, which thankfully has yet to surface) with ribbons in his hair and he would definitely sing on a stage made to look like the back of a river boat. And I'm the one who would have to ask who that was after being introduced to a famous actress. And he's more likely to be widely beloved and meaninglessly assassinated beneath a giant American flag in front of classical architecture.
All of this is wrong though. John would actually be the sassy Pearl, the older redheaded lady who gets all emotional talking about the Kennedy assassinations. She doesn't have a natural foil, and J. and I aren't really all that much of personal foils anymore, so I'm free to pick someone else. I still don't get to be Barbara Jean. We all know she goes to Mason: lovable sweetheart singer who has just recovered from an accident involving a flaming baton. Which unfortunately makes Kat her husband, who isn't the best character, but the comparison stands only because of the brightly colored bow tie which he wears untied around his neck the whole time. He's at least got flair. Actually, screw that. I can't give Kat a comb-over even if his bowtie is great. She gets to be the blonde chick who runs from her husband who drives the red pickup around. That chick has style (and can fix a truck).
Liz is the British journalist. Why? Not personality reasons, but I could totally see her wearing that hat and probably that dress too. And I can totally see her getting out of a painful conversation by saying, "Oooo, Elliot Gould!" and just getting up and walking away. This means that Stan is the son of the singer who shows her around everywhere.
L.A. Joan is Dean. Outfits, hair, facial expressions. No debate. He is always Shelly Duvall.
I'm always accused of picking people for me just because they are my favorites and trying to twist them into who I would be. This is true (but I am good at it). So of course I want to be Linnea, Lily Tomlin's character. Not exactly classically beautiful but strangely attractive and sporting an odd yet flattering haircut? Most likely to attend a black church and sing in a gospel choir? Ok, so actually Lisa is Linnea. Lisa would also be Lily Tomlin in 9 to 5 (Michael is Jane Fonda, I get to be Dolly Parton. Don't argue with me on this one; not up for debate. John is the boss's nosy assistant who they send to France.).
I was going to do a whole thing with me as Linnea and Ben as Tom (Keith Carradine's character), which was going to cause trouble since they are doomed lovers, but, in my defense, the two with the most chemistry in the film, and Ben is a tall hot blonde dude that always has people throwing themselves at him. But Lisa is Linnea, so I don't know who Tom is. Once upon a time he was Brock (not to Lisa's Linnea, just in general. I mean this as a compliment, not a criticism), but now Brock is the guy running around arranging the big concert for the politician (also a compliment, not a criticism). Or it could be Michael: everyone wants him but no one ever gets as much of him as they want. But it isn't Michael. He is Jeff Goldblum's character, in funky glasses riding around on a giant tricycle, although I'm tempted to make him Linnea's deaf daughter just to give him that mullet.
Well, if Ben and I aren't Linnea and Tom, then I suppose we are Sheila and Patty, The Smokey Mountain Laurels who sing "Oh These Troubled Times". I'm the short bossy one who asks for beers as soon as we finish singing.