Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DUMPLIN’ (Netflix)

Two reason why I started watching DUMPLIN’. 1. I couldn’t watch Bird Box because my wife was in the room and doesn’t like scary movies. 2. An original song by Dolly Parton in the film is nominated for best original song at the Golden Globe, and it was the only movie in that category I hadn’t seen, so I thought I’d cross it off the list. Turns out, I am glad that I did. It’s a sort of cute, sort of sweet little film, with a lot of heart. And the only true complaint I have of the film is that Jennifer Aniston absolutely cannot pull off a country accent to save her life.

I didn’t know much about this film going in either. I think I’ve seen bits of a trailer online with no sound. I know that Danielle Campbell was in it (to be honest until I just memorized her name a day ago I was calling her the big girl from that rap movie ((Patti Cakes)) and that Jennifer Aniston played her mom who was once a big deal beauty queen that won a bunch of pageants, and now she sponsors/owns one. That’s it. When the time came into the film that Campbell’s character Willa Dean enters her mothers pageant to honor her late aunt and to show her mom she isn’t just some lacky, I was going, “oh, so it’s going to be one of those cliched pageant movies huh?” I was waiting for all the cliched lines and jokes I’ve seen in films like Miss Congeniality 1 & 2 and Drop Dead Gorgeous, or just a bunch of people making fun of her because she was a bigger person entering a sexy thin girl pageant. But low and behold, that wasn’t what it was.

There really is only a couple of name calling things, but its at the beginning of the film and is in high school and isn’t at the pageant. In fact, if I remember correctly all the girls in the pageant ended up being nice to her and didn’t play any dirty high school fat girl jokes on her during the course of the film. The film strategically puts the daughter and mother relationship at the forefront of the film, her relationship she had with her late aunt second, her friendship with her hot skinny friend that they’ve had since they were little third, and her friendship with some new weird people, skinny and fat fourth. All the this being a big person in a pageant scenario is quietly pushed backstage and never to be seen again from the beginning of the film. Also, the movie is smart enough not to have her friend go mean, all high and mighty either, they have like a really stupid fight and make up shortly after.

The movie is cute and slightly funny. I don’t think I laughed out loud all that much, but I did indeed chuckle, and the movie kept my attention that I didn’t just go to my laptop to pass any boring parts. Danielle Campbell, after seeing her in Patti Cakes, and now this, is an incredible actress that deserves more theatrical chances. Her being a white trash wrapper to a country gal in this is a complete 180 change, and she pulls it off in flying colors. Like I said, the only problem I had with this film was Jennifer Aniston. Her country accent is terrible and has the whole cliched “I do love my child but I ignore her mostly and don’t think she should be in my pageant because of her size but obviously will change her tune by the end of the movie.” It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been marathoning Friends recently in the background while trying to get my son asleep. I just don’t see her as anything than Rachel.

I was surprised to see Bex Taylor Klaus in the film (I’ve met her in real life and have a picture with her and Carlson Young from the Scream TV series), but I was hoping for more of her character. She is just a rebel that enters the pageant just because she can and doesn’t care about the whole thing. She doesn’t have an arc. Another big girl enters as well and I love where her story goes, and Harold Perinneau plays an excellent drag queen that helps the girls a little on their way. It’s a cute film with excellent entertainment value. Definitely one of the better things that Netflix has put out. Now off I go, going to watch Bird Box tonight to see what all the fuss is about, even though I have a good feeling that Dumplin’ will end up being the better watch of the two and more worth your time.

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