1999, Movies

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999, Michael Patrick Jann)

This is very dark, quirky mockumentary, a little like Christopher Guest with way more murder and no interviews. It’s super oddly paced, and it some of the humour hasn’t dated super well, but I kind of admire its mean spirit and how it stands apart from the Christopher Guest school.

So, this is a mean-spirited film. Unlike a Christopher Guest mockumentary, you could argue many of the characters are caricatures rather than characters. But I have zero respect for the institution this is mocking and so I really don’t mind the mean spirit. The deaths are casual, and much of the humour is about how awful everyone is. I might have enjoyed it more at 18 – had I bothered to see it – but I feel like beauty pageants are fair game.

Some of the humour has dated really poorly, particularly Will Sasso’s character and the Japanese parents. But both are fairly typical for the era and I’ve seen a lot worse. But both arcs make for some awkward moments where you’re reminded of what was acceptable back then. (We’ve watched a few comedies from back then recently and there’s almost always something like this.)

It’s super oddly paced but I think that’s part of its charm. The climax happens much earlier than it should but this actually makes it stand out a little bit. I’m not sure this is artful, exactly, but it works more than it should and it feels a little subversive, especially given how it ends.

Sure, some of the humour is dated, and the film feels a little cruel. But I felt the edge was a little refreshing, and it stands out among a lot of these mockumentaries due to how distinct it is.


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