[box cover]

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a comedy so black it could pass for charcoal. Michael Patrick Jann's well-crafted spoof of the beauty pageant world is both bleak and hysterical, crossing back and forth over the boundaries of good taste so often that one begins to feel like a yo-yo. Still, the film's broad strokes of satire and unapologetically goofy spirit will win over all but the prudest viewers. The story: Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley) is a former glamour queen who will stop at nothing — and we do mean nothing — to make sure her daughter Becky (Denise Richards) follows in her footsteps. But competition soon arrives in the form of warm, sunny Amber Atkins (Kirstin Dunst), the queen of the local trailer park, who also has her eye on the tiara. Although none of the characters are anything more than walking stereotypes (including some of the shallowest Midwesterners this side of Fargo), it's hard to think of another comedy with sharper teeth or more confidence in itself — it's rare for 30 seconds to pass without a flash of biting social commentary or a slew of zingers being hurled across the screen. (The silliness culminates in the competition's talent show, in which Becky dances with "the special man in [her] life": a large stuffed Jesus, mounted on a cross. Another contestant plans to recite a monologue, but can't decide whether Othello or Soylent Green would make better source material.) But despite its occasionally malicious tone, the film is clearly intended as good fun. New Line has given Drop Dead Gorgeous a stellar video transfer from an excellent source print, with nary a digital artifact to be seen. Both widescreen (1.85:1) and pan-and-scan versions are included on the disc, along with two Dolby tracks (2.0 and 5.1 surround). Unfortunately, the disc is barren of extra features — only a single trailer is offered (which is in itself a disappointment, since two were created for the film). But despite the disc's relative sparseness, fans of black comedy will find a great deal to like. Drop Dead Gorgeous is brutally funny, with the emphasis on "brutal." Snap case.
—Joe Barlow

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