Guilty-Pleasure Movie: Drop Dead Gorgeous

Over the past year and a half, I have been doing some dating. During the initial “get-to-know-you-and-ask-you-inane-questions” phase, it comes out that I am a cinephile (aka movie nerd).  Should my date not ask for the check at that precise moment, vowing to never pick up random strangers standing in line at Shake Shack again, the obvious follow up question is, “What is your favorite movie?”  I have a few stock answers: Chaplin, Gone with the Wind, Rear Window, etc, however, this is not quite accurate.  My favorite movies really depend on my mood.  When I am sitting at home and I want to escape the real world for a couple of hours, I do not automatically reach for the “highbrow” cinema.  I head straight for the trash.  Twenty minutes later, you will find me sprawled on my couch, wearing my ripped jeans, eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream right out of the container, and watching, um…Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of those movies that is just so ridiculous that I walk away smiling every time.  This mockumentary follows a local beauty pageant turns deadly in a Minnesota town.  The cast includes: Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Brittany Murphy, Denise Richards, Amy Adams (in her film debut), and Allison Janney.

Dunst plays Amber, a poor, “trailer trash” girl from Mount Rose, Minnesota, who is following her dream to become the next Diane Sawyer.  As a part of that dream, she signs up for the American Teen Princess pageant.  Her biggest competition is from Becky (Richards), the daughter of the richest, and possibly the most offensive, man in town (Sam McMurray) and the head of the pageant committee (Alley).  While she prepares for the pageant that may get her out of Mount Rose (“Guys get out of Mount Rose all the time.  For hockey scholarships.  And prison.”), misfortune seems to befall Amber and those who try to help her.

Obviously, from the synopsis above, this film has the depth of the half-deflated kiddie pool that sat in my backyard every summer.  However, it seems to have that quality that makes me double over laughing every single time I watch it.  What makes me love a trashy movie is that one glimmer of greatness that shines through the shit; in Drop Dead Gorgeous, it is the cast.  From the comic genius of Allison Janney to a pre-anorexic Brittany Murphy making even throw away lines giggle worthy.  Then again a lot of the lines are really hilarious simply for the fact that they are all said with a Fargo-esque Minnesota accent.

“Well, yeah, Tammy liked to drive her dad’s thrasher, but…I mean….she said the heavy vibration helped her think. But I know for a FACT, Tammy only smoked after a good drive.”  Seriously, it’s so much better with a Minnesota accent.

While movies like this seem to have little impact on the public and less on film critics, it is still worth something.  When my mind is going 4,000 mph and I start over-thinking everything from my dinner order to my career, watching this kind of movie allows me to just sit back and tune it all out. Lovable trashy movies are necessary for us to decompress and find a moment of stupid funny in a tension filled existence. These movies are cotton candy: totally devoid of any nutritional value, but sometimes you just got to have it.

Ariadne Ansbro

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