Februrary 12, 2013
Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Kirstie Alley, and Ellen Barkin
"And so, dear Lord,
it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman,
whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is
your way of telling us... to buy American."
Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of those little comic masterpieces
that I would put right up there along with the Brady Bunch Movie.
I would put it smack dab at the top of my list of
that you think will suck but are secretly awesome." In fact,
this is one of those movies that looked so stupid on paper that I
wouldn't give it a chance for nearly half a decade. I
when it first came out, I saw it sitting there on the video
at Blockbuster, and I walked right by it for like four years.
I didn't even hesitate. And every time I walked by it I
exact same thing. "Oh goody, a beauty pageant movie starring
Denise Richards and Kirstie Alley. Yeah sign me right up for
one, I bet it's awesome."
The sign of any good movie
Well one day around 2003 I was bored and I had nothing else to
do and I
decided to give it a chance. I remember thinking, well
Dunst was pretty good in Bring It On. So maybe she is funny
this one too. Why not roll the dice and waste 90 minutes of my life on
Kirstie Alley beauty pageant movie? Who knows, I've got
better to do. Maybe it will actually have a laugh or two.
So I rented Drop Dead Gorgeous. And I experienced it for the
To call this movie a dark comedy would be a bit of an understatement.
Because I am not sure I have -ever- seen a comedy that was
any darker than
Drop Dead Gorgeous. It is so much different than you think it
going to be. It is also fucking hilarious, and is one of
rare movies that I immediately ran out and bought right after I watched
it. All it takes is one viewing to realize that this little
beauty pageant movie" is going to one day be right up there alongside
Bad Santa and The South Park Movie in the bad taste comedy movie Hall
And I'm not sure even South Park can top Mary Johanson in the
anorexia spotlight dance
Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of those movies that I don't really want
to tell you too much about. In fact, I almost feel like I
already told you too much. I mean, I already spoiled the
anorexia subplot, the dancing with Jesus subplot, and the
Hank the Retard subplot. I already tipped you off
of the funniest jokes in the movie.
Good thing I didn't also spoil my all time favorite "Please
Buy American" joke
Or the legend of pageant judge John Dough
Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of those little gems that I
could just sit here and rave about for hours. I mean, I can't
even tell you how many people I have turned on to this movie over the
years. And without question, EVERY single person I have ever
recommended it to wound up loving it. In fact, last year it
was even responsible for my all time favorite movie
recommendation story ever.
a friend who lives in Australia and who doesn't watch movies.
She just doesn't like movies. But I happen to know
thinks that Americans are weird and religious and hypocritical.
And she thinks that beauty
pageants are creepy. And she is also cynical as hell.
emailed her one day out of the blue and I said, "Look, I know you don't
watch movies, but if I could recommend ONE American comedy to
it would be this one. Take a chance on Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Let me know what you think of it, it should be right up your
Needless to say, she LOVED it.
And right there,
there you have it. That is the power of this movie.
Dead Gorgeous, arguably my all time favorite recommendation movie.
It is so funny that people who don't even watch movies will
wind up liking it.
It's the most smartest movie ever
You know, I was going to keep this review short, because I sort of want
people to experience DDG for themselves. But I can't sign off
before I mention a couple of things that have to be said.
Like Lona Williams
Drop Dead Gorgeous was written by a woman named Lona Williams.
She was a former beauty pageant contestant from Minnesota
they say, write what you know) and to this day, if I ever see another
movie written by Lona Williams I am going to see it.
But that is the sad thing. She just never really wrote any
She wrote Drop Dead Gorgeous (her debut), then she followed it up with
similar movie called Sugar and Spice. Sugar and Spice isn't
by the way, it is nowhere near as funny as DDG but it is still awfully
similar. However Lona Williams didn't like what the director
with Sugar and Spice so she sued to have her name taken off of the
before it came out. And really, that was about the last time
ever wrote a movie. And that kills me, because Drop Dead
is so unbelievable awesome that it hurts me that she never wrote any
other movies. Some day she really needs to come up with some
sort of a follow up. I can promise you that I will be there
on opening night.
the way, that is Lona Williams in the picture above. She is
judge on the far right. She is one of the judges in Drop Dead
Gorgeous but she
never actually says a word.
Janney (above) pops up in the second half of the movie and
she practically walks away with the entire thing. I have
lot of people over the years say that Allison Janney is the most
underrated comic actress in America, and in no movie is that more
evident than in Drop Dead Gorgeous. She takes a movie that is
chock full of hilarious characters and amazing writing, and she
overshadows everyone. It is ridiculous to think that Allison
Janney isn't a bigger star. It is doubly ridiculous that they
have never asked her to host SNL.
Oh yeah, speaking of scene stealers, the late Brittany
Murphy is in Drop Dead Gorgeous in one of her very first movie roles.
She is the giggly girl who snorts when she laughs and who
Allison Janney) steals nearly every scene she is in.
Oh yeah, remember how I talked crap about Kirstie Alley and Denise
Richards at the start of my writeup? Well I take it back when
comes to Drop Dead Gorgeous. They are both absolutely PERFECT
their roles. Nobody else could have played the materialistic,
vacuous, super religious, more than a little bit evil Leeman girls.
Knows that Jesus loves winners
And then, finally, we come to Amy Adams.
Yes, you know
Amy Adams. You know, one of the most decorated and respected
actresses in the world? The one who always gets nominated for
Well one of Amy's first movies was Drop Dead Gorgeous.
I actually have a funny story about Amy Adams.
Way before she ever became famous, way before anyone who ever knew
who "Amy Adams" was, she was always my favorite character in Drop Dead
Gorgeous. For years I remember thinking, "You know,
girl who played the town slut, Leslie, she was a really good actress."
I always thought it was amazing that a character who was that
stupid and who was that much a tramp could actually come off as being
likable. I mean, in the hands of most actors, Leslie the
Town Mattress would have only been a one joke character. She
would have only existed for you to make fun of her. But
she was played by Amy Adams, in the movie you find yourself actually
kind of rooting for her.
I remember thinking that about eight years ago. I remember
thinking, "Wow that girl who played Leslie was really good.
was actually kind of sweet. I wonder why that Amy Adams girl
never made any other movies?"
Amy Adams is very popular at frat parties
And you know, I guess I can't sign off without at least one more
mention of Hank, the dancing with Jesus scene, and the anorexic girl.
It's the wig that kills me
As I said earlier, Drop Dead Gorgeous is destined to one day be elected
into the bad taste movie Hall of Fame. There may
been a darker, more cynical and nasty and mean spirited comedy, and I
just absolutely love it. I cannot believe how much better it
than I originally expected it to be. It is the ultimate
of you really can't judge a book by its cover. There is no
you can see "beauty pageants" and "Kirstie Alley" and "Denise Richards"
and "first time screenwriter" and expect a movie to come out of it like
this. There is just no way.
Besides "underrated" and "guilty pleasure", one of the phrases
that gets thrown around the most when it comes to Drop Dead Gorgeous is
"it's not for everyone." Most of the reviews of this movie
will invariably say something to the effect of "Well it will probably
offend you, but
if you can handle it you will love it."
Well, personally I
disagree with that statement. I think this -is- a movie for
everyone. I have yet to find a person who didn't watch Drop
Gorgeous the first time and crack up. Even if, yes, even if
think it is probably in bad taste. I mean, who cares if it is
bad taste? This is the kind of ballsy little comedy
that should be celebrated. The bad taste is what
actually makes it endearing.
Guns! Deaf people!
I would like to finish my review of Drop Dead Gorgeous by sharing a
story about my mother. My dear sweet mother. Who
as a small town Lutheran girl in Port Angeles and who probably never
saw any type of edgy comedy at all until she was about thirty.
Well I showed my mom Drop Dead Gorgeous somewhere around 2003.
I didn't know what to expect. I mean, -I- knew it was edgy,
knew it took a lot of potshots at religion. And I knew it was
particularly nasty when it came to Lutherans. But I was
what my mom would think about it with her, you know, actually being a
Lutheran and all.
Well all it took was about five minutes.
five minutes into the movie, one of the Lutheran women sees a drunk
Catholic priest walking down the street. And she turns to the
camera and says "The communal wine just proves -too-
tempting for some of them.
And that's why we Lutherans use grape Kool-Aid for the blood
Well that was it. She was done. That line destroyed
her. My mom was laughing out loud pretty much the entire rest
of the movie.
Without question, one of the best comedies in my entire collection
Drop Dead Gorgeous. If you have never seen it before, get
ready for it. It sure is a memorable one.
Rent it yourself, grab yourself some bars, and enjoy.
And be sure to keep that hemoglobin up
favorite IMDB user reviews about Drop Dead Gorgeous:
About the funniest thing
I've ever seen. - 28 December 2002
don't tend to use strong language when describing movies because I see
so many and it's rare that I find anything really new. This is one of
I had to stop watching several times because I was laughing so hard. I
see a lot of movies and I have never laughed this hard.
read some of the other comments about this movie and there is a lot of
anger against this thing. Can't see it. Some comments say it is too
offensive, it's not. Some say it's boring, it's definitely not. Some
say it steals from other movies, but that's just downright false. It's
hilarious and utterly unique.
Underrated Comedy - 15
expected to enjoy this movie. In fact, I thought I was going to hate
it. "Beauty pageant themed, chick-flick comedy", right? Stupid jokes
about hair, dresses, and stuff I couldn't care less about, right?
Wrong. It's presented in that faux-documentary (or mockumentary) style
that Christopher Guest has perfected. It pokes fun at middle America,
small towns, that sort of "redneckish patriotism" we see so often, and
of course the way these contestants (and their parents) take themselves
WAY too seriously. It also shines as a mostly female comedic sandbox
where Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, Brittany Murphy, and
Kirstie Allie can show off their comedic skills (I had no idea that
some of them had it in them). All I can say is that it's hilarious.
Will Sasso is the greatest "handi-capable" character ever put on film.
His "cheerleading" as Kirsten Dunst spells every state in alphabetical
order is comedy gold. If you don't laugh...you're dead inside.
Most smartest and
funniest American film since The Producers - 3 August 2004
is a seriously funny film, deeply subversive and a great piece of work.
What it's not is a satire on the vacuousness of beauty pageants.
aims at the emptiness of our whole materialistic culture and the way we
have traded in the more valuable things in life for the pursuit of a
perfect self image and will even cash in that perverted, limited
objective for a few minutes of fame on TV. Life is a house of cards
with hidden truths under every shiny surface.
The humour is so
dense and the jokes are so profligately thrown around that it
occasionally feels like an incarnation of The Simpsons, 54 episodes of
which benefited from the efforts of DDG scriptwriter Lona Williams. She
may have written your favourite. The performances are no less
praiseworthy with outstanding leads and fabulous and memorable minor
characters. Look out for the Sheriff. Amongst them all, I'll single out
two which I think are pitch perfect, Sam McMurray as the ruthless
father in thrall to his wife and daughter and Nora Dunn as the drunken
'has it come to this?' State Pageant organiser. There are lots of
others to choose from.
Every you time you watch you get
something new, enabling you to rejoice further in the fact that half
the people who watch it don't get any of it at all. In fact it's so
sharp that even people who like this type of thing can get cut to
pieces by it. We are, after all, watching ourselves. Mind your fingers
. . .
Most smartest and funniest American film since The Producers? Yes, it's
Much Funnier than it was
Given Credit For - 29 June 2004
has to be one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Drop Dead Gorgeous
is a fictitious, sarcastic documentary about a beauty pageant that is
intentionally un-politically correct and sprinkled with dark comedy.
While it admittedly doesn't follow the Mockumentary format as well as
the Christopher Guest films, there is one reason why it didn't do well
at the box office: It doesn't come right out and hit you over the head
with the jokes. Mainstream Hollywood movies like to set up the joke,
tell the joke, then explain why the joke was funny to make sure
everyone got it. Much of this movie requires you to pay attention,
watch the background, remember what happened in previous scenes, and
sometimes even figure out what happened off-camera or else the jokes
fly right by. You really have to see it a few times before you can
truly appreciate all the thought that went into the script. Drop Dead
Gorgeous shows that there are movies made with subtle (yet really
funny) jokes that require thought, and some comedies are worth seeing
again and again. Unfortunately, the fact that it's always on the $4.99
rack at the store shows that most people aren't ready for them. If want
a movie that's a real hidden gem, pick it up.
Satire - 30 September 2010
Minnesota accent is fantastic and the details to humor is just
brilliant. Granted not everyone in Minnesota sounds like that, but it
is a far more of an accurate accent than the strong one in Fargo. It's
fair to say this because I actually live 30 minutes from Minnesota.
just so much going on in the background and as silly as everything is,
you are really rooting for Dunst's character, even though the tone is
so "Strictly Ballroom" (outrageous and sweet). The documentary style is
perfect for this it brings out the charm and ugliness of the whole
Honestly, I'm just surprised that this movie wasn't and isn't more
popular. Or at least some sort of cult classic.
I miss humor like this. I'd trade awkward silence to sweet satire any
Also I love Amy Adams in this film, from a Stripper to Enchanted
princess... a girl can really dream.
Brutally Wicked And
Hilarious - 14 June 2010
just watched this again for the first time in a few years. And it is
even more hilarious than I remembered. The script is wicked, creating
satire that assaults the senses like a baseball bat to the gut. The
cast is perfect. Just about everyone delivers an inspired performance,
and there are too many to talk about all of them. But the least likely
is worth mentioning. Denise Richards is brilliant as a born-to-be
beauty queen, the daughter of the local pageant manager, played by
Kirstie Alley. Her "talent" performance is the dark highlight of the
movie, so ridiculously over-the-top that that you may feel the need to
wince. Try not to. If you close your eyes for even a moment, you'll
Brittany Murphy also deserves a special mention.
She plays a goofy, good-natured contestant in what would be a
throw-away role for many actors. But Murphy brings a charm and
commitment that makes it work. And she is rewarded with what I think is
the best line in the movie.
A satire about beauty
pageants even straight guys can enjoy - 25 February 2011
Dead Gorgeous is an incorrigible satire that overcomes the doomed
reputation of its genre to be one of the funniest films I've seen in a
long time. Even when it's well done, satire tends to be more clever
than comedic…and it usually isn't that well done in the first place.
This movie spectacularly succeeds by not only offering up sharp takes
on fairly obvious and easy targets, but also delivering delightful bits
of lunacy that will make you laugh at everything from horrific eating
disorders to physical mutilation.
The story is about a
documentary film crew that goes to the small Minnesota town of Mount
Rose to cover the local qualifying pageant for the America's Teen
Princess competition. They film and interview the pageant organizers,
young contestants and their friends and family. The crew is also around
to record the deaths and maimings that surround the pageant and always
seem to benefit Becky Leeman (Denise Richards), the jaded and two-faced
daughter of Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley), the pageant organizer, a
former pageant winner and a stage mom desperate to relive her past
glory. The only real competitor to Becky, at least the only one that
luckily remains unharmed, is Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst). She's the
good hearted trailer park girl who squeezes in tap dancing practice
during her two jobs, one in the school cafeteria and the other putting
make up on stiffs in the town funeral parlor.
As you might
expect, a lot of the satire of Drop Dead Gorgeous is aimed at the
natives of Minnesota and the classic tropes of small town life. It's
reflected best in some of the pageant contestants. There's the slutty
cheerleader (Amy Adams), the drama club chick (Laurie Sinclair), the
tomboy of ambiguous sexuality (Brooke Bushman) and the fat girl who
loves her dog a little too much (Shannon Nelson). But these filmmakers
then compliment those fairly obvious characters with some wonderfully
off kilter contestants. One young woman is a future fag hag (Brittany
Murphy), another lives her life as a tribute to her deaf mother (Sarah
Stewart) and another is a white girl adopted and raised by Japanese
parents that are pathetically desperate to assimilate into the good ol'
U S of A.
By adding bizarre and outrageous bits that are only
trying to make you laugh, it makes the satiric and darker outlook of
the film go down a lot smoother. Many satires fall into the trap of
being self righteous or exploitative but because there's a different
and separate layer of comedy running through the story, Drop Dead
Gorgeous is just plain hilarious. As you react to the crazy,
non-satiric jokes, it becomes easier to appreciate the humor underlying
the satire. And since the non-satiric comedy is more over-the-top and
potentially offensive than the satiric moments, it never feels like the
film is being judgmental about these characters or their dreams.
things out is a cast that's as good as the material they're given to
work with. Kirsten Dunst and Amy Adams are the highlights, both
absolutely adorable and just close enough to being realistic to give
their characters that extra oomph. Ellen Barkin is also great as
Amber's "rode hard and put away wet" mother and Allison Janney almost
steals the show as her outspoken and cougarish trailer park neighbor.
The other actors are also very funny and screenwriter Lona Williams
gives one of the best performances in the movie without saying a word.
Denise Richards is…well, she's Denise Richards. If you've seen her in
other films, you know what to expect. She's good looking and makes an
effort, but there's just not a lot going on.
Drop Dead Gorgeous
is a movie about teenage beauty pageants that's so funny and bold, even
a lot of high school boys could enjoy it…and I'm talking about
heterosexual high school boys. I'm not sure there's any higher praise
that I can give.
favorite quotes from Drop Dead Gorgeous:
(get ready, I could probably post a hundred of these)
do I think Becky'll win? You're talking about the richest family in a
small town. It's front page news when one of them takes a shit.
Fuckin' beauty queens blowing chunks everywhere. I-I've never seen
anything like it before, and I live in L.A.
Voice of Documentarian:
So you've, uh, you've judged a lot of pageants over the years?
no, no way, no. Never judged a pageant before in my life. Mm-mm. No
way. Never been around young girls. I mean, even if I was, I mean, why
would I wanna be, y'know? I-I don't get off on that kinda thing and
that's really why you're askin', right?
Someone say somethin'?
[Loretta sees the documentary film crew approaching her trailer]
we on 'Cops' again?
Becky Ann Leeman:
[holding up a pistol] My mom gave me this 9-mil for my
13th birthday. Yeah. I'll always remember what she put on the card,
"Jesus Loves Winners". That's why no matter what I do, I aim to win.
one of you boys give me a ride home?
Don't fall for it. She lives two trailers down.
Be real easy.
And you are...
Mount Rose American Teen Princess.
Funny, you don't look dead!
American Teen Princesses do not cross their legs like streetwalkers.
[to Leslie Miller]
Excuse me, Miss Penthouse '98, put your kness together. I could drive a
boat show in there.
With one week to go before the pageant, I was finishing my outfit,
rehearsing my talent, brushing up on current events, and running 18
miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready.
Voice of Documentarian:
Do you think that most people would say that teenage beauty pageants
are a good idea?
Oh yeah, sure. I know what some of your big city, no-bra-wearing,
hairy-legged women libbers might say. They might say that a pageant is
old-fashioned and demeaning to the girls.
What's sick is women dressing like men.
You betcha, Iris. No, I think you boys are gonna find something a litle
bit different here in Mount Rose. For one thing, we're all God-fearing
folk, every last one of us. And you will not find a "back room" in our
video store. No, no, that filth is better left to the sin cities.
AKA Minneapolis Saint Paul.
[answering "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"]
Becky Ann Leeman:
I'd have good strong roots in a town like Mt. Rose, a solid Christian
trunk, and long, leafy branches to provide shade for handicapped kids
on a hot summer day.
[the documentary crew are filming the reigning local pageant winner, a
hospitalized anorexic girl. Amber is doing her hair]
Becky Ann Leeman:
[entering with a box of chocolates] What? Oh my God,
lights, camera and me without a stitch of makeup on! What are you guys
What are you doing here?
Becky Ann Leeman:
Oh, Amber, like you're the only one who visits Mary.
Who are you?
Becky Ann Leeman:
Who are you? Oh, Mary, you kill me!
[to the camera]
Becky Ann Leeman:
She always says that, it's a little game we play, every week, same
dippy little look on her face, "Who are you? Who are you?" Just like
that. It's me, Becky. Mmmm, and I brought your favourites.
[she gives her the box of chocolates]
Real nice, Becky, she's anorexic.
Becky Ann Leeman:
[covering Mary's ears] She's skinny, Amber, not deaf.
Gladys Leeman: [wearing
her old pageant outfit] And can you believe it, they still
had a big ass then, she's got a big ass now.
Mount Rose Mayor: [about
the town sign, which says "Home of Freda Hegstrom, Minnesota's Oldest
Living Lutheran"] Oh, yeah, sure, Freda, sure. She was the
oldest living Lutheran, now she's dead as a doornail. It's the damn
Shriners who won't take down the Goddamn sign, the lazy sons of
bitches. Every year, every damn year, I tell 'em, "Take down the
Goddamn Freda sign, you lazy sons of bitches!"
I was Mount Rose American Teen Princess 1945. We were at war with the
Japs. Didn't even get to keep my damn tiara. Had to turn it in for
Oh yeah... really nervous... it's been about, 2 months. I haven't told
my boyfriend yet. How did you know?
OH! You mean about the pageant! Yeah!
Jenelle Betz: [at the
contestant interviews] The tard's pants are completely off
Harold Vilmes: [everyone
looks at Hank who is obviously spanking his monkey] Close
up shop! Close up shop!
Amber Atkins: [as Annette
is being driven away in an ambulance] Mom! I'll be right
behind you in the hearse!
Don't let that worry you Annette!
favorite scene in Drop Dead Gorgeous:
There are few moments in life as jaw dropping as the first time you
see Becky Ann Leeman demonstrating her love for Christ by slow dancing
Jesus on a crucifix. I
mean, I'm not sure that will ever be topped in a movie. Also,
love that I just ranked the anorexic girl's farewell song as my
-second- favorite and most offensive moment in this movie.
at the IMDB
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