I can tell looking at it, this movie is going to vanish and people are going to forget they ever saw it. It’s a shame, really, because I found it very entertaining. Other folks I have talked to either liked it as much or really didn’t like it. It’s a mockumentary much like Waiting for Guffman was a mockumentary – not as realistic as Spinal Tap (and certainly not ur-realism like Blair Witch) but not a full blown narrative either. Take The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom and make it about Minnesota teen beauty pageants and you have a good sense of the flavor of this film. Guffman and Gorgeous are formatted like a mockumentary but feel far too much like films and planned narratives (even with Guffman at least being all improvised) to “pass” for the real thing. Gorgeous employs a talented stable of familiar faces to tell its story (like Guffman) adding to the unrealism. Please add an emphasis on talented.
Very little about Drop Dead Gorgeous is a surprise, except the darker elements: Denise Richards is the rich hottie competing with the sweeter, more deserving Kirsten Dunst, and there is a slew of other girls who are also vaguely familiar competing as well. Allison Janney is given much more to do than her out-of-place shenanigans in 10 Things I Hate About You, and she’s a real pleasure to watch. The cast, while only appearing in small snippets and small group scenes, still really feels like an ensemble, people who really know each other and who aren’t just talking about other characters in a script. This probably won’t play as well in Minnesota – aw golly geez those dialects are funny, ja dontcha know. And almost everyone has a really good accent.
The pageant is frightening (Denise Richard’s talent entry is…alarming), the jokes vicious and funny, the horrible things girls do to be The Most are painful because you know they are true. The same scary competitiveness that drove Holly Hunter’s characters to…*allegedly* kill the cheerleader competing with her daughter is all over Drop Dead Gorgeous. It’s quite wicked and funny. If you like poking fun at small town, white trash life, this is the movie for you! If you are not bothered by personal tragedy when it serves a greater comedic purpose, by all means, run, don’t walk.
I only say a teeny weenie snack as compared to a good, fat-free bag of Twizzlers and a Diet Dr. Pepper (got to watch that figure if you’re going to compete!) because the movie didn’t work hard enough to try and convince me that it was a documentary, true or no. I enjoy the spontaneity of improvisation and a good mockumentary (Blair Witch) can convince me it’s real even if I know it’s not. Maybe it’s just me. As a movie and a narrative and a cluster of performances, it’s great fun, and definitely a swell way to get in out of the heat. Plus there are all these foxy teen girls to ogle – but look out, you creepy teen-ogling middle aged men – you get lampooned as well!
Grab some friends, split a popcorn, and go see it. Jeez.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 7/23/99
Time in minutes 97
Director Michael Patrick Jann
Studio New Line