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Drop Dead Gorgeous

A movie directed by Michael Patrick Jann

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Texas cheerleader mom turns into Minnesota cow

  • Jul 8, 2000
  • by
Pros: .......

Cons: Kirstie Alley

Who cares how plastic the world of beauty pageants are when they can shake up fodder like this to satire them? Despite its' successful humorous outlook at the entire beauty pageant industry, there were actually some values lurking behind that hairspray and lipgloss. The first time I watched it I simply thought it was another of those Texas Cheerleader Killer Mom type movies or slapstick like Airplane or Naked Gun series, but I watched it again today and was sort of surprised at the hidden story beneath it. Or maybe it was just me.

Had I reviewed it after the first watch, I would have probably slapped a one star on it, but with the second viewing I'll move it up a couple of notches.

Kirstie Alley is such a phoney actress. Seems she is in this just so she can wear poufy dresses and appear beautiful ~ once she was pretty but she is turning into a whining cow. Likewise, Adam West must have been low on cash. Although he does make a good sleezy, pompous, look-at-me-aren't-I-beautiful type of guy. Ellen Barkin had me absolutely rolling on the floor. She is so darn funny anyway and mix that with her earthy good looks you are often surprised that this woman pulls off her goofy acts. I'm sorry, but being fused to that beer can was hysterical.

The judges of the beauty pageant, I'm sorry I didn't catch their names in the credits, were too unbelievable. The perverted bald guy with the camera and the overweight guy were too funny, but the one that really got me was the woman sitting in the background with the snarl on her face all the time like she smelled dirty diapers or something. Then while interviewing the girls and asking mindless, no meaning questions, they hit Dunst up with name the states in alphabetical order and spell them - can you say set up?

Denise Richards was so sickly sweet you wanted to pinch her head off but her demise on the goose was worth watching her throughout the movie. Competing for tramp of the movie against Barkin is Allison Janney (Barkin's best friend). Despite trying to ‘score' with every guy she meets, she does have a soft spot for Amber. Of course the star of the gig was Kirsten Dunst, that talented little girl holding down all those mindless jobs and putting up with Barkin for a mother, good for her.

As with Fargo we seem to spend a good deal of time spoofing the great Northwest. As I know the Forgoians were fairly peeved at the representation of their fine city. I am sure no one is too pleased with this one either. Unfortunate that they choose Alley for the lead as she was unable to hold her accent throughout the movie. (Not that I am saying people in Minnesota have an accent)

Some movie highlights
Entering the Miss Teen Princess America pageant in Mt. Rose, Minnesota, seems to be a requirement, if not a duty. It doesn't seem to matter if you are pretty or talented just so you enter. Backing the gig is Mr. & Mrs. Leeman, she the former beauty queen and he the local furniture store owner, parents of the ill-fated Denise Richards. Richards main competition in this little gig is Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst), who by the way is pretty, talented, a decent person, holds down a couple of jobs (one weird one), and popular in a gritty way. Dunst's mom (Barkin) is also an ex-princess.

While we realize that Richards is the most unprofessional of them all, you generally know she is going to win. Leading up to the competition, there are several ‘accidents' aimed at Dunst but never actually knocking her out of the contest. You never really find out who is responsible for these accidents but Alley ends up in prison. (Side note: both times I watched this movie it cut out right after the goose explosion then came back on at the funeral. Just in case it came out during that time frame that Alley was the guilty party, I missed it)

Since Dunst was first runner up, she becomes head princess and goes on to State, winning that as well. (A really funny camera interview when trampette Janney yells on camera to Barkin "I scored"). Moving on to Nationals, we find the busload of hopeful ‘teenies' unloading at the headquarters of Sarah Rose Cosmetics, the sponsors, and finding it seized by the IRS for tax evasion. This is where the true nature of the contestants shows. The other losers attack the headquarters while the ‘good girl' Dunst sighs and gets back on the bus.

Not the end of the movie, but enough.

Didn't I mention some hidden values?
While this spoofs the entire deal you also see just how shallow people can be when put into these circumstances. There were also some good moments, for instance when the girl gives up her dance costume to Dunst because hers has mysteriously come up missing. In effect, she is giving up her spot at the title and showing some compassion.

And while tasteless, the girls in the bathroom certainly gave the true insight of the entire program, and probably most people's feelings on these type of contests. They blow!

If you are a backer of these worthless pits against each other, you probably didn't care for this little movie, since it probably comes closer to the truth than some would wish. There is a lot of backstabbing between contestants (and their mothers), a lot of cheating and fixing scores.

Although I found this movie both amusing and informative, I thought the writer, Lona Williams, snuck a little too close to that Texas cheerleader mom scandal. There were just too many similarities which is unfortunate because I think the content of this movie could have stood on its' own merit. The face that SHE is a former pageanter should have given her enough fuel for her fire. However, overall it wasn't too bad.


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More Drop Dead Gorgeous reviews
review by . August 30, 2000
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Really funny; Great commentary on pageant life     Cons: Some things are just plum offensive and need to be taken with a grain of salt.     Yes, I admit it. I am a product of an adolescence spent in pageants. From 1991 through 1994, I competed in three major pageants: Miss National Tenager, Junior Miss, and Ms. Barbizon International. I traveled to various places in my state and even down to an Antonio, TX, for a national competition. I met many different …
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About this movie


There can be only one Miss Teen Princess and an overbearing mother will stop at nothing to make sure her daughter wins a beauty contest. A twisted comedy set in a small Minnesota town loaded with some very unladylike behavior. Watch out for the affected Midwestern accents!
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Cast: Ellen Barkin
Release Date: 1999
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Warner Home Video (December 14, 1999)
Runtime: 1hr 38min
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