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A few years ago while working at a small television station, I found myself in the position of producing a beauty pageant that was sponsored by a modeling agency in a large city. While the fight for the crown that's displayed in this movie is exaggerated, I sympathized with the feelings that motivated the creators of Drop Dead Gorgeous--for the first few minutes. After that I was simply appalled by this black comedy.
In Mount Rose Minnesota, the annual Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Beauty Pageant is an important event. Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley), a former pageant winner, is the coordinator and host. Even more important, her daughter Becky (Denise Richards) is entering the contest. This rich, attractive, and conceited girl has been groomed her whole life to win this event.
There are many other hopefuls besides Becky, including Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst), a sweet girl living in a trailer park who works as a dishwasher and mortician's assistant (doing make up on the corpses). However, when one contestant is mysteriously killed in an explosion, another by a falling stage light, and Amber's trailer burns down sending her mother to the hospital, it becomes obvious that someone is trying to eliminate the competition.
The script's humor is bound to offend more than just beauty contest proponents. The real contest here seems to be how many population segments you can insult. In faux documentary style, a mentally challenged man's actions are used for laughs, and Christians are mocked when Becky dances with a life-size crucifix, singing Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. Asians, the hearing impaired, Jews, Blacks and farmers are some of the other targets.
I wanted to find this film amusing. After all, my experience with the politics of beauty pageants had left me critical of such contests and convinced that the contestants were merely pawns. I had hoped this film would convey that message. Instead this offensive movie raises issues that are no laughing matter, rendering it unsuitable for many families.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is rated PG-13: for irreverent and crude humor, sex-related material and language
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, Denise Richards, Kirstie Alley
Studio: (pictures (c) 1999 Newline Cinema Productions, Inc.)