1999 was a good year for comedies in general. It was specifically rich in biting satirical comedies like Election, Office Space, Dick, and Drop Dead Gorgeous. This is another surprise winner with an attitude, intelligence, and humorous style that far exceeded my expectations going in. Drop Dead Gorgeous isn’t quite on the level of Christoper Guest’s work in the mockumentray genre, but it comes closer to capturing that level of creativity zaniness than the many others imitators that have arrived since This is Spinal Tap.
The State’s Michael Patrick Jann, directs this dark comedy centering on a Minnesota teen beauty pageant. Contestants become corpses in the small town of Mount. Rose as ten girls vie to be named Sarah Rose Cosmetics’ American Teen Princess. The pageants’ show runner (Kirstie Alley) is a former winner obsessed with seeing that her daughter, Rebecca (Denise Richards), is crowned. This leaves Amber (Kirsten Dunst) in an unfair position as she is clearly the most deserving of the honor but has to face the real life danger of competing against Rebecca, and her murderous mother.
Drop Dead Gorgeous was marketed as a vehicle for Kristie Alley, who’s star was fading in the late 1990s’, but it’s the uniformly excellent supporting cast that carries the film along. Nearly every role has been filled with an actor/actress who would achieve a high level of recognizability within the industry. Outside of some unnecessary artistic choices and the occasional violence, Drop Dead Gorgeous would be ideal family viewing. I urge audiences to rediscover this overlooked and quickly forgotten little flick.
Director: Michael Patrick Jann
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin,