By Colleen Seto
ha funny. Drop Dead Gorgeous is a damn funny movie. I was pleasantly surprised.
Sure, there were some moronic parts, but no more than any other comedy.
The story revolves around the small town of Mount Rose, Minnesota, which
is obsessed with their local teenage beauty pageant. Now when I say small
town, I mean small town. Mocking the lives of hickville folk, the film
was rampant with rednecks, trailer trash and Southern belles. The cast
was great, with everyone playing the small-town mentality to the letter.
One of the pageant judges is a freaky, borderline paedophile whose judging
experience is based on nothing more than his hobby of watching young girls
work out. It just doesn’t get more rural than that. Filled with “God-fearing
people,” who preach one thing and do another, Mount Rose puts on
a lovely display of ignorance that sits like a fog.
Brimming with a self-righteous American theme, the beauty pageant is the
biggest event for the town’s teenaged girls, or anyone else for that
matter. A fierce battle is waged between Becky (Denise Richards), the
town snob who enjoys shooting for a hobby, and Amber (Kirsten Dunst),
a sweet, naive girl who works two after-school jobs in order to support
herself and her drunken mother (Ellen Barkin). Kirstie Alley stars as
Becky’s mother, who happens to be the pageant chairperson. Of course,
you can see the plot develop before it occurs, but you look forward to
it anyhow. Becky is dead-set on winning at all costs, and as the richest
girl in town she has no trouble getting her way.
Done in a documentary style, Drop Dead Gorgeous unfolds from the point
of view of a camera crew making a film to commemorate the 50th anniversary
of the Sarah Rose American Teen Princess Pageant. The films moves through
several rounds of elimination (literally) as the field narrows to Becky
and Amber. The other contestants also make up an amusing group, ranging
from a slutty cheerleader and a chubby dog-lover, to an angst-ridden drama
buff and a butchy jock. These girls put on a good show.
Drop Dead Gorgeous looks at small town life. It shows how a superficial
event like a beauty pageant in a small town becomes the most important
social occasion, consuming the lives of all who live there. It also takes
a tongue-in cheek look at the whole beauty pageant concept, showcasing
the previous year’s winner as a deathly ill anorexic. The film makes
fun of those who devote their lives to such shallow competitions, but
also shows how it is a way of life in many rural communities. Sadly, a
beauty pageant can be the only ticket out for a small town girl.
The humour is shamelessly bold, which works well because of the whole
movie’s exposé style—it hits the mark almost every time.
Wrapping up with a cheesy, yet satisfying ending, Drop Dead Gorgeous succeeds
as a comedic critique of a town’s preoccupation with a meaningless
event. It’s blown to huge proportions because, tragically, the people
in the town need something to do with their lives.