Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why I Love Drop Dead Gorgeous & You Should Too

Drop Dead Gorgeous Poster

Thanks to the response I got from my write-up on The Stupids, I figured I would write a little bit about another severely underrated movie: Drop Dead Gorgeous.  This 1999 release is a mockumentary that follows a group of high school girls as they prepare for and compete in the local level American Teen Princess beauty pageant.  It features murder, mayhem, and general idiocy.  It also happens to be one of my top five comedies.

Let's take a look at why I love this movie so much.  And yes, there are spoilers ahead.

1.  So Many Smokers

Drop Dead Gorgeous Smokey the Clown
I love Smokey the Clown!

I didn't really notice this the first few times I saw the movie, but the smokers far outnumber the non-smokers in this movie, to the point where it seems like almost every adult in Mount Rose smokes.  The best smoker, however, is the old lady clown, who is smoking in the parade after the pageant. 

2.  Hank: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Drop Dead Gorgeous Hank
He's a huffer

My wife disagrees with me on this point, but I think I found an underlying story here.  Hank (played by Will Sasso), well, Hank isn't right.  We witness a lot of his "antics" throughout the movie, such as taking his pants off (twice), running on stage to peek up Kirstie Alley's dress, drinking window cleaner, huffing paint, and mowing cement while wearing a tin foil suit.  This was seen at the very end of the movie, when we find out that his brother Harold died unexpectedly of "lyme disease from a deer tick bite".  On its own, that doesn't seem too dark, but when you take into account the other mysterious deaths in Hank's life, and the next point on my list, things start to change.  See, their mother is dead, and she's buried by the tree behind their house.  Hank's babysitter is also dead.  And it's mentioned that Hank was acquitted from some charges, even though we never find out what.  I'm guessing murder.

3.  The Police Covering Up Crimes

Drop Dead Gorgeous Dirty Cops

When the first girl in the pageant is killed on an exploding thresher that she was driving, the police cover up the murder by claiming it was an accident, and that she must have been "smoking and driving."  Amber (our main character, played by Kirsten Dunst) knows that isn't true, because, "she only smoked after a good drive.  The heavy vibration helped her think."  Then later, when Amber's mobile home blows up, the police cover that up too, claiming it was "faulty wiring."  Who's to say what else they are covering up to protect their town's image?  Maybe a local business owner dying from a tick bite?

4.  John Dough, Pervert

Drop Dead Gorgeous John Dough

John Dough is the town pharmacist.  He is also the town creeper.  He is excited to judge the pageant, because he gets to be around young girls.  He gets caught with his video camera checking out the girls during one of their musical number practices (above), and his attempt at explaining it away is great.  "Just a camera I keep in the glove compartment, for, uh, car accidents. Insurance.  I mean, you guys got a camera, and no one's accusing you of anything, right?"  And his expressions while he is interacting with the contestants are disturbingly funny.  You can see the lust and the wonder in his eyes for these seventeen year-olds.

5.  Food Poisoning

Drop Dead Gorgeous Food Poisoning

After the local pageant is over, Amber has to go compete at the state level.  When she arrives, we hear how Sarah Rose Cosmetics didn't send any money to fund the pageant, so they don't get to stay overnight and have to compete in a few hours.  During the practice, we see a nice shot of everyone loading up at the seafood buffet.  The only contestant who doesn't eat any is Amber, who doesn't eat shellfish.  Can you guess where this is headed?  The news report about what happened is accompanied by Also Sprach Zarathustra (a.k.a. the song from the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey) if that gives you any more of a hint.

6.  The Ending

Drop Dead Gorgeous Kirsten Dunst

The ultimate payoff for this movie is amazing.  It is exactly how a twist should be handled.  I refuse to spoil it for you, but I will say that the ending pushes this from a pretty good movie un to an outstanding movie.  It is quite perfect. 

There is so much more that I could talk about in this movie.  I could talk about the uber-patriotism these people show.  Or I could talk about Minnesota's Oldest Living Lutheran.  Or lutefisk and how it's best with lots of butter.  I could probably quote the entire thing to you, but I am going to force myself to stop.  Just go find the movie and watch it.  You won't be disappointed!