Drop Dead Gorgeous is a film about a teenage beauty pageant. As you might expect; it features plenty of young girls in skimpy outfits, dancing, singing and all that crap. However, unlike a lot of films of the same ilk; here, hidden behind a facade of teen beauty and all the other trademarks of the teen comedy genre, is an intelligently written, witty and very dark satire on the consumer society.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is a filmed in the style of a documentary, a la 'This is Spinal Tap' and follows the escapades of a group of contenders in the annual beauty pageant. The contenders are introduced via a very amusing sequence, which sees them tell the audience about themselves. It's very MTV in the way it's done, with all the girls introducing themselves as shallow, fussy, typical teenage girls. After that, the film starts to set its dark tone, with one of the girls being blown up, and is the tone that will be carried throughout the rest of the movie. Some of the humour in this movie is so dark that even I, a fan of very black comedy, couldn't decide whether to laugh at or not; a woman that gets a beer can melted to her hand, an anorexic previous winner, and the pageant winner being blown up on a huge float are all included in this movie. It's lighter and more tongue in cheek moments are also done very well, such as the part in which one of the judge's brothers gets caught in the car door, or a hilarious 'home video' of an explosion.
The characters in Drop Dead Gorgeous are all, with the exception of Amber Atkins, disagreeable, shallow and overblown stereotypes. This is one of this movie's main assets; it has the parodying of stereotypical people spot on; we've got an "I'm not a pervert" pervert judge, an insensitive, egotistical head of the richest family in town, the overenthusiastic boyfriend and many other colourful and amusing characters. Some of the lines said by these characters are priceless; stupid, but not overly stupid and you really could imagine people like these saying things like the characters in this film do.
The entire cast of this movie excels; it features a lot of small characters and each one plays their part to perfection. The main acting plaudits come for Kirsten Dunst in the starring role of Amber Atkins. Kirsten has the ability to act, and act well and she's also extremely good looking. Many actresses look good and can't act, or vice versa but Kirsten has both abilities, which makes her a very good lady to have in your film. With a few more hits under her belt; Kirsten may well be remembered as the finest actress of her generation. Two other stand out performances come from Kirstie Alley as the former winner of the pageant and mother of one of the contestants; and Ellen Barkin, who brings the characters of Amber's mother to life brilliantly.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is a film that will be overlooked by many because it's a teen comedy. This is a great injustice; here we have a film that is extremely funny, well acted and actually has something to say.