TThe new Netflix movie Dumplin – Glee's Mawkish, Rhinestone-Loved-Child, 1975 beauty contest satire Smile and virtually every episode of Chrisley Knows Best's reality show – is a great playwright about an overweight teenager who finds herself Dolly Parton. As an ode to Backwoods Barbie, who has produced and directed six original songs for the film, Dumplin & # 39; s often fun, as in a scene where a lively group of Texas drag queens are some of the biggest hits of woman Parton performs.
But as a coming-of-age story, as a comedy of the Southern procession or as a story of mother-daughter reconciliation, she's boringly conventional and feels like she's seen it all before, but with more glitter and higher hair.
Directed by Anne Fletcher, also behind great Romcoms like The Proposal and 27 Dresses and based on the popular YA novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin & # 39; takes place in Clover City, Texas, where a high school named Willowdean Dickson ( a naughty and likeable man) is Danielle Macdonald, who spends her days fending off school killers, waiting for breakfast, and lazing in the pool with her best friend Ellen (Odeya Rush). The film takes its name from the sweet but unintentionally humiliating Sobriquet that Willowdean has assigned from her mother Lucy, played by Jennifer Aniston, whose high octane pageant impression with Holly Hunter is a bit like Toddlers & Tiaras.
Some background: Willowdean was educated by her now deceased Aunt Rosie (occasionally in a voiceover), who introduced her to Parton's music when her sister, Willowdean's mother, took part in beauty contests across the country and hosted beauty contests. And as we open up, Mother-Daughter Rift is alive and humble: in a parade called Miss Teen Bluebonnet, the campy and generously styled Lucy awards thinner, more conventionally attractive, young women, while Dumplin exits the stage considered. her aunt grieving and resentful against her passionate mother.
This of course motivates them to enter the pageant and stage a mini-revolution for outsiders like themselves personae non grata the close-minded pageant circuit. It's not quite the "revolt of the oppressive hetero-patriarchy unconsciously internalized by the female psyche," as a character says, but the premise is still full of possibilities.
There is a better version of Fletcher's film that is less monotonous, but Dumplin adheres to the conventions of these inspiring stories: a car pool scene in which Lucy overhears how Willowdean calls her nickname Willowdean and ridicules her for it; a handsome and charming boy, who on an unbelieving dumplin was a mother who initially opposed her daughter's crusade and was then impressed; a best friend who decides to annoy Dumplins that she likes the beauty pageant more than she expected. This is one of those problem-oriented movies where everything is talismanic, from a magic eight-ball to a lacy butterfly brooch, to a framed photo of dolly.
The story of the film does not help Murphy's and scriptwriter Kristin Hahn's hokey script, strangely hungry for laughter, even in Macdonald's cockiness, Aniston's comedic gifts, and a brief appearance by the ever-welcome Kathy Najimy (the mother of Maddie Baillios Millie, who joins Willowdeans Protest). That the best lines are Parton's own – "It's hard to be a diamond in a world of rhinestones"; "It's a good thing that I was born a girl, otherwise I would be a drag queen."
Equal moments of fictitious uplift are the performances of Aniston and Macdonald, an energetic actor who has just come out of her first starred vehicle, the 2017 hip-hop neckerchief Patti Cake $. Aniston effectively channels the seriousness of the pageant circuit: "It is my responsibility to adhere to the guidelines, however unpopular they make me," she says sternly to a participant whose selection of a Beyoncé number is influenced by the world of the Antediluvian Festival , A dramatic monologue at the end of the film also reveals layers of Lucy's character that may have been flattened by a less capable actor.
Dumplin, however, is more polemical than pageant, and too often the film announces its loud intentions with slogans instead of dialogues: "A protest in the heels", "Every body is a swimsuit body" and as if it were to itself moving yourself. Awareness: "Hey, hi ho, the patriarchy has to go." This is a message that must lag behind, as well as Aniston's superfluous southern accent and the rise of Macdonald. The movie is not.