1999 was a good year for movies but one of the movies that tends to get overlooked is Drop Dead Gorgeous. This was also at the height of my obsession with Kirsten Dunst.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is a mockumentary about a beauty pageant in Minnesota . The “documentary” film crew chronicles the tryouts and spotlights the girls vying for the crown. The two front runners are Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) and Becky Leeman (Denise Richards). Amber is the talented underdog while Becky is the daughter of the richest family in the city. Becky is also the daughter of Gladys (Kirstie Alley) who is a former winner and in charge of running the show. As the show gets closer freak “accidents” keep happening and people begin to die. It becomes clear that the show is rigged in favor of Becky but can good girl Amber rise out of the trailer park and follow her dream to be a beauty queen?
While the premise of the movie sounds stupid it somehow works. It is the perfect blend of satire and dark comedy. I have seen it described as a mix of This is Spinal Tap and Fargo and that seems like a good description. The characters are all over the top stereotypes but they are played by a perfect cast. Like I said this movie came out at the height of my Kirsten Dunst obsession and this is one of my favorite movies she has done. She perfectly captures the naiveté and optimism of Amber. She is surrounded with a hilarious supporting cast that includes Kirstie Alley at her best, also Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Brittany Murphy, and Amy Adams in her first feature film all giving great performances.
The movie was written Lona Williams who grew up in Minnesota and was beauty pageant contestant a number of times. So it is easy to imagine a lot of these characters are versions of people she knew. Williams also worked on shows like Rosanne, The Drew Carey Show, and The Simpsons so she knows how to write good comedy. The movie has some of the best one liners and sight gags. One of my favorites is when Amber’s mother starts hitting her with a beer can that has fused into her hand after an explosion.
What is so good about this movie is that it gets more ridiculous as the movie goes on. In the beginning you think yea this can happen but then things just get crazier and crazier. Eventually you have an exploding swan and beauty contestants throwing up (was it sabotage by Wisconsin?). There is a message in the movie about people’s obsession with looks and materialism but like all great satires it is just beneath the surface of hilarity. So if you want to sit around and think about what it is trying to say you can do that or you can just sit back and enjoy the crazy which is how I prefer to view this movie.
My only problem with the movie is why did the pharmacist have to be the pervert?
To sum it up I am going to use one of my favorite quotes from the movie. “Beautiful as a whore’s ass”