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DROP DEAD GORGEOUS - DVD Movie
Subtle is not the word to describe Drop Dead Gorgeous, a mock documentary purporting to cover the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Teen America Beauty Pageant in Mount Rose, Minnesota. Ellen Barkin Sea of Love and Kirsten Dunst Interview with a Vampire, Dick are perfectly cast as a mother and daughter whose only ambition is to use the pageant to get out of their claustrophobic small-town lives. Opposing them are Denise Richards Wild Things, Starship Troopers and her mother, Kirstie Alley Look Who's Talking, who just happens to be the pageant's organizer. The plot, which centers on contestants being murdered mostly by flaming explosions, is clearly secondary to the backstage shenanigans and satirical portrayals of vanity, small-town corruption, and family dysfunction. There's not much suspense to the pageant itself, but Dunst is an endearing protagonist and along with the broad jokes are some excellent acting turns from the cast, particularly Barkin, Brittany Murphy Clueless, Nora Dunn a Saturday Night Live alumna, and the great character actress Allison Janney, who's played small roles in countless movies but finally gets a chance to shine as the supportive neighbor of Barkin and Dunst. In fact, for all the jokes and satirical jabs, in the end it's the characters' relationships that stay in your mind. A bonus: the soundtrack features a hard-rocking version of the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, performed with cool aplomb by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. --Bret Fetzer