Drop Dead Gorgeous

Beauty pageants get bruised on the dull point of this lampoon. The Sarah Rose Cosmetics Miss Teen Princess America pageant is a rite of passage in small town Mount Rose, MN. If you're 17 and "not a total fry," you're in, whether or not you're talented, graceful or even especially pretty. The pageant is dominated by hypocritical organizer Gladys Leeman (Kirstie...read more

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Beauty pageants get bruised on the dull point of this lampoon. The Sarah Rose Cosmetics Miss Teen Princess America pageant is a rite of passage in small town Mount Rose, MN. If you're 17 and "not a total fry," you're in, whether or not you're talented, graceful

or even especially pretty. The pageant is dominated by hypocritical organizer Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley), a wealthy former winner who's groomed her spoiled daughter Becky (Denise Richards) for pageant stardom since birth. Becky's chief competition is smart, fresh-scrubbed Amber Atkins (Kirsten

Dunst), a hell of a tap dancer and a terrifically nice person. Her mom (Ellen Barkin), also a former pageant contestant, ended up in a trailer park but figures Amber could parlay victory into a one-way ticket out of Mount Rose. Complicating the high-stress situation is a film crew that's

documenting the pageant's 50th anniversary; the fact that the judges are in thrall to the Leemans; and the "accidents" that are narrowing the field. Directed by first-timer Michael Patrick Jann (who wrote, directed and performed in the MTV comedy series The State) and written by a pageant

survivor, this scattershot comedy contains some terrific moments. Richards nails the saccharine, diamond-hard insincerity of professional pageant tootsies, while Dunst manages to convey niceness and sincerity without being boring or too good to be true. Barkin's hardbitten trailer-park tramp is a

triumph, and she's nearly upstaged by Allison Janney as her best pal, Loretta. But as a subject for biting satire, small town goofballs are an absurdly easy target unless they're emblematic of something larger than themselves. For all the potshots at child molesters, the mentally impaired,

anorexics, religious hypocrites and others, screenwriter Lona Williams doesn't seem to have gotten much beyond the petty absurdity of theme headdresses and ludicrous talent competitions.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Beauty pageants get bruised on the dull point of this lampoon. The Sarah Rose Cosmetics Miss Teen Princess America pageant is a rite of passage in small town Mount Rose, MN. If you're 17 and "not a total fry," you're in, whether or not you're talented, gra… (more)

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