Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) — Lampooning the pageant circuit

“With two weeks until the pageant, I was practicing my talent, finishing my costume, brushing up on current events, and running 18 miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready.”

Andie’s review: I have to say, I love this movie! A lot of people have told me that they thought it was stupid and boring and stuff, but I could not stop laughing. It totally makes fun of local beauty pageants, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s that far off. I happen to know a family where if pageant contestants started showing up dead, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that mother/daughter team was behind it. I also love the accents, they cracked me up!

The premise here is that Mount Rose, Minnesota is having a local beauty pageant where the winner gets to compete at the state level representing Mount Rose. The two main competitors are sweet, angelic, loveable Amber (I love Kirsten Dunst, by the way) and yucky, bitchy, do anything to win Rebecca (don’t like Denise Richards, don’t think she’s that pretty). All of a sudden, girls start dying and there’s even an attempt on Amber’s life. The pageants goes on however and it is revealed, after Rebecca wins, that she was responsible for the deaths and Amber gets to go to state.

Doesn’t sound that great, I know, but it really is funny. They all have comically exaggerated Minnesota accents, Amber’s family life is the epitome of sweet trailer trash, complete with her mom getting a beer can melted to her hand in a fire (don’t ask, just see the movie), and Rebecca’s talent is a crack up. She attempts to sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” while dancing around with Jesus on the cross as her partner. It’s totally absurd and I almost died laughing. Another stand out is Allison Janney as a friend of Amber’s mom. She’s rude, crude, foul-mouthed and completely crazy, I love to hear her talk about the rich family and how she hates Rebecca and all that. The supporting roles of the other pageant contestants are really awesome too, they’re all funny. I hate to say this, but the winner of last year’s pageant is shown in the hospital for her eating disorder and that’s really not funny, but it really is anyway.

This is definitely mindless entertainment at it’s best and I highly recommend it for 2 hours of beauty pageant antics. And it’s not just for girls, I only watched it because my friend Curt recommended it to me. So go rent it.

Justin’s rating: Tee and Hee.

Justin’s review: If you’re a guy, there’s a huge problem when it comes to renting this movie. The box is stark pink, looks like a Cosmo cover, and boasts a movie about beauty queens. Yes, I know, they’re all signs to throw down, test its flammability with your Zippo, and run screaming to the Ernest section of the video store. But trust me, you’ll want to rent this.

This mockumentary spotlights a fake teen beauty pageant and follows the contestants around as the town goes from insane to booby hatch in much less than two hours. It takes place in the Minnesota town of Mount Rose, where Kirsty Alley knows your name with a Midwestern accent and the trailer-bound townies live for this monumental event. Amber (the ever-cute Kirsten Dunst) is relatively smart for a blonde, but still wants to win the pageant to make her mom proud and to show off her tap dancing talents. But she begins to get scared by Rebecca (Richards), whose ruthless tactics (read: blowing up tractors) and perfect poise (read: she’s so prissy, it makes you hate her worse than Starship Troopers) seem all but unbeatable. Then there’s the other contestants, who are as flawed as they come, and the judges, who are as perverted as they come.

I laughed those deep hard belly laughs that mostly disturb my neighbors. Nothing is sacred in the world of Drop Dead Gorgeous, particularly people who consider beauty pageants the be-all, end-all of existence. And there’s a Lutheran Gun Society, which has a cross fashioned out of carbines. And then there’s the not-quite-right boy who keeps slapping his dad’s head during his dad’s interview. And the subtitles the documentary crew keep flashing up during all sorts of opportune moments. Absurd shenanigans keep everything from getting to preachy as a satire.

I am really glad the filmmakers chose the mockumentary format for DDG, because it works in a way that a normal movie just wouldn’t. It keeps us, the audience, distanced as the documentary crew is… we’re just observers, not emotional participants, and that’s good. Plus, it was hysterical to see the documentary crew exchange high-fives with the camera crew from COPS (“Steve!” “Hey, Joe!”). Whether you’re a man or someone who is not quite a man, you could do far far worse than get this movie the next time you’re browsing. What’s worse? Two words: David Schwimmer.

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