the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Reviewed on 2007 June 8

Since the whole beauty industry is pretty much a joke anyway, I settled down to watch this, thinking it would be a good spoof. It’s not horrible but it ain’t Smile.

Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) is one of those smart, talented kids stuck in a dead end town (here it’s Mount Rose, Minnesota.) with her barfly mother Annette (Ellen Barkin). Amber spends all her time dancing and working two jobs — if she’s not flinging lutefisk at the school cafeteria she’s the makeup artist at the town funeral home — but that makes no difference to the powers that be in the little town. They just see her as another barfly in training.

When Amber hears about the American Teen Princess beauty pageant, she sees a way out of Mount Rose. She signs up as a contestant, to the horror of stage mother Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley). Gladys won the pageant herself back in the day and now wants her daughter Becky (Denise Richards) to wear the crown. Unfortunately, since the Leemans seem to be the family in town, so do the rest of the pageant officials. Plus, strange mishaps plague the more talented contestants.

There were a few tasteless bits, but I have to give the movie credit for showing how things are in many a small town. They layered the satire on with a trowel, but anybody who went to a small high school probably had their own Becky Leeman to deal with. Denise Richards was very good as the spoiled Becky, and Alley and Sam McMurray (the boorish Lester Leeman) are perfect as the irritating power couple that you’d bump into over bars at socials. And Dunst was charming as Amber. A lot of the movie was predictable, though, and tried too hard to be hilarious.

One chocolate morsel. It’s too stupid to be either really funny or really offensive.



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