Drop Dead Gorgeous | Chicago Reader

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, and Denise Richards star in this uniquely mean-spirited skewering of teen beauty pageants (1999). An intermittently enjoyable bad movie that never knows when to stop, this heaps scorn not only on every aspect of (and participant in) the pageant but also on mental defectives, signing for the deaf, and Japanese-Americans eager to assimilate. All the leads play their roles like strident amateurs (only Allison Janney, as Barkin's best friend, emerges relatively unscathed), and the film's so aggressive about its bad-taste agenda that the early John Waters seems a pussycat by comparison. There's something bracing about the unleashing of so much unbridled negativity, especially for anyone who's ever suffered through small-town pettiness and mediocrity, but this 1999 release eventually outstays its welcome. Still, if you come to it in a sufficiently foul mood, it might cheer you up. Michael Patrick Jann directed.

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