When the film moves to Vietnam, its less expert filmmaking and threadbare, inauthentic settings get harder to forgive. Many of the scenes, as the girls travel stage to stage, lack any sense of a war-torn country. Vietnam is less a battlefield than a menagerie of handsome, strapping soldiers for the girls to enjoy.
Familiar soul hits make up the soundtrack, in song-and-dance scenes and montages. The songs are undeniable crowd-pleasing classics, but they've countless times before been fodder for movie redemption, muting their effect here somewhat.
But even when "The Sapphires" is at its most unpolished and cheesiest, O'Dowd and the film's general warm spirit make it a tune hard to resist. Heart and humor, after all, aren't always so easy to find at the movies.
"The Sapphires," a Weinstein Co. release, is rated PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of war violence, some language, thematic elements and smoking. Running time: 99 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.