Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) starring Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Denise Richards, Kirstie Alley, Sam McMurray, Mindy Sterling, Brittany Murphy, Amy Adams directed by Michael Patrick Jann Movie Review

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kirsten Dunst and Amber Atkins in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

She's a Killer Beauty Queen

What leads you to watch a movie is it that the storyline appealed, you like the director's previous movie or the stars are some of your favourites. Unfortunately if you watch "Drop Dead Gorgeous" purely for who is in it you are going to be left disappointed because whilst Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards and many more well known faces do a good job this beauty pageant mockumentary is not the biting satire it should be. Maybe those who love beauty pageants will enjoy it more but for those like me who are not fussed by them there is just something missing and that stops "Drop Dead Gorgeous" from sparking into life.

So as already mentioned "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is a mockumentary about the American Teen Princess Pageant and so we have the contestants, the pushy mums, the behind the scenes and also a subplot about sabotage as contestants are being killed. In fact that is just part of the movie because there is a lot crammed into 97 minutes and in some ways far too much. After a witty opening which sees Adam West acting as a compeer we then get the introductions to all the contestants for the Mount Rose Teen Princess Pageant plus their diverse families and also the group of weirdoes who will be judging. There are just too much, too many contestants, too many introductions to families and too much focus on the judges and it loses those moments of satirical bite.

Kirstie Alley and Gladys Leeman in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

It means that this opening drags on and it feels like an age before we actually get to the story and also the mysterious deaths of rival contestants. But even then the whole pageant side of things feels drawn out because thanks to the number of people we meet in the opening we have to have at least one scene for them during the pageant. Ironically "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is only 97 minutes long but it feels a whole lot longer because it has crammed so much in.

The knock on effect of trying to cram too much in is that the dark biting satire often feels watered down. You go from something darkly funny such as Amber having an after school job doing the make up on the dead at the funeral parlour to something stupid like one contestant loving dogs. It is again a case that there is too much being crammed in and so whilst there is some brilliant, darkly funny satire which pokes fun at the whole beauty pageant scene you then get something very weak and irrelevant which isn't that funny,

The saving grace for me is not so much the performances, although Ellen Barkin as a trailer trash mum is brilliant, but the fact there is a lot of talent on show. Giving us are teen beauty queens you have Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams and Brittany Murphy and then you have Kirstie Alley, Will Sasso, Michael McShane and Mindy Sterling as parents, judges and so on. They all plus many others deliver enjoyable performances but again it is a case that there just seems to be too many characters which forces us to keep track off too many different elements.

What this all boils down to is that "Drop Dead Gorgeous" just didn't do it for me, it's fun but seems to be trying to do too much and so ends up watering down the best parts by some very average parts. But I am sure if you are a fan of beauty pageants it will be 100 times funnier than for those like me who aren't.