Susan Granger’s review of “DROP DEAD GORGEOUS” (New Line Cinema)

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing the “gorgeous” girls would just drop dead in this heavy-handed mock-documentary. Set in Mount Rose, Minnesota, it purports to examine a small-town beauty pageant. Here in the hallowed American heartland, amidst cow pats and pork sausage, there’s an all-out battle being waged for the sparkling tiara. Denise Richards plays a spoiled little rich girl whose primary talent seems to be sucking up to the judges, mouthing banal platitudes, and dedicating her rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to Jesus Christ. Kirstie Alley plays her scheming mother, a former winner, who also serves as the pageant’s coordinator. The only real competition comes from a sweet, guileless, tap-dancing trailer park girl, Kirsten Dunst, who worships Diane Sawyer and wants to become a television journalist. She’s egged on by her chain-smoking, beer-swilling mom, Ellen Barkin, and wonderfully slutty neighbor, Alison Janney. Screenwriter Lona Williams and director Michael Patrick Jann (MTV’s “The State”) rely on caricatures and revisit too many snide, crude clich├ęs – from the “You betcha” drawl of “Fargo” to the “Spinal Tap” hysteria to the condescending “Waiting for Guffman” buffoonery of “God-fearin’ folk.” Not that beauty pageants aren’t ripe for satire, but “Smile” (1975) did it so much better – and it didn’t need to travel to the Eating Disorder wing of the local hospital. Holly Hunter’s “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom” set a standard for such things that this doesn’t even come close to. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is a tepid, trivial 5. Too bad Hollywood couldn’t have left it alone to develop on its own as a little independent film called “Dairy Queens.”

Susan Granger rate this movie 5 out of 10