For the last two years one could not attend an independent film festival, big or small, that did not have at least two “mockumentaries.” Well, now it’s Hollywood’s turn to jump on the “mockumentary” bandwagon with “Drop Dead Gorgeous”. In fact, “Gorgeous” began its life as an “indie” (originally titled “Dairy Queens”) with no big stars involved. This just proves that mainstream Hollywood is ALWAYS years behind what is trendy and fresh with regards to comedy (or any other catagory). Let’s face it … did ANYBODY actually think that “Wild, Wild West” was going to muster even a sympathy chuckle?
While this genre is far from new, (notables being “This is Spinal Tap” (1984), more recently, the genius “And God Spoke” (1994) and the oft hilarious, 1999 Slamdance fave “Chi Girl”), it is basically an untapped market to the studio system. Well, “Gorgeous” is Hollywood’s response to what is considered “hot and fresh” in film today and surprisingly it does have some laughs.
“Gorgeous” is a look at a small town’s beauty pageant through the eyes of a documentary crew. Its cast includes Denise Richards (“Starship Troopers”, “Wild Things”), Kirstie Ally, Ellen Barkin, the stunning Kirsten Dunst (“Interview with a Vampire”) and a plethora of hilarious supporting roles, Allison Janney (“Private Parts”), Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers”) and Matt Malloy among others.
The film’s humor is derived from every cliche about small towns taken directly from the proverbial comedy thesaurus. With cartoonish characters that would have made Walt himself cringe and non-stop trailer park stereotypes the film sets a quirky tone and sustains it until a very bizarre and contrived ending. In fact, if it were not for a lack of both dialogue and screen time from Denise Richards and an amazingly grounded, yet still humorous, performance from the ever belly-shirt-clad Kirsten Dunst, this film would be barely worth a video rental.