LH Movie Review: Dumplin’


Creative Commons

Photo via Creative Commons – Netflix

Lindy Rublaitus, A&E Editor

On December 7th, a new movie appeared on Netflix as a new original movie: “Dumplin’”. A southern story about the overweight daughter of a former pageant queen, Willowdean “Dumplin’” Dickson, who is fed up being put under her locally famous mother and decides to take on the competition for herself. She and a group of other high schoolers who don’t fit in join together to protest the Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant for acceptance from her community and her mother.

I would like to start off by saying that I adore the soundtrack. It is all Dolly Parton music and gives this Southern environment a bit of a pop. The way it connects to her personal story adds life to her character. She has been singing those songs since she was a little girl with her aunt who treated her better than her mother did. Also, Dolly Parton is an amazing singer in general so I appreciated the music scattered throughout the movie. I do have a problem with the fact that this is considered a musical/drama. I wouldn’t consider one lip synced performance the requirements for a musical movie.

The relationship between Willowdean, played by Danielle Macdonald, and her best friend Ellen ‘El’ Dryver, played by Odeya Rush, makes me think of the summer days in the sort of small town of Iowa City. The bond the two high schoolers hold seems extremely realistic and is what I think everyone wants when they come to high school. They stick together.

All of the other outcasts who decided to join makes me feel at home to be honest. They aren’t the “Mean Girl” type of outcasts where the groups are extremely prominent even though the character Hannah Perez makes me think of Janis Ian from “Mean Girls”. They are just a group of girls who want to prove people wrong, not to make fun of the pageants themselves. It is extremely inspirational to see a group of girls take on this big of a challenge because pageants aren’t very common around these parts. In this day and age, I think acceptance of body types and personalities is a big focus for teenagers, but I always tend to wonder if this opportunity were to come up to students in my community, would they be willing to try?

I have been recently binge watching “Friends” on Netflix, and Jennifer Aniston has made another great film appearance. Compared to her character, Rachel, in “Friends”, Rosie Dickson in “Dumplin’” is so relaxed. Her southern charm mixed with her pageant queen personality makes for a much more laid back version of Aniston that I’ve never seen but enjoy. To be completely critical, I think her character is a bit weak but it still gets the point across that she hasn’t been a big part of her daughter’s life.

Artistically, I love the style of this movie, specifically the colors. There is a warmth to everything that gives a rustic style to the movie but also makes it very homey like a small town should feel. When she is searching through her aunt’s room, there is a secret closet that is lined with red fabrics and has a very warm feeling attached to it compared to her cold blueish green bedroom which resembles the person she was seen as on the outside.

My favorite part of this movie is how much they incorporate people actually being themselves. For example, there is a scene where the group of misfits visit a drag queen show. Personally, drag queens are inspiring by themselves, but the direction in this scene makes the young teenagers seem so inspired, like if those girls can dance their hearts out on stage then they can achieve great things on their stage. It seems so true and so inspiring to this girl who was ready to quit.

This movie is something that we needed. Many movies have been made around what it means to be a teenager that doesn’t fit in including the recent release of “Insatiable”. The difference is that this movie is about embracing being who you are rather than changing in to what you want to be. While the movie is a bit cliche, it is well fitted to the society we live in and is a good story to remind people of all ages to go for it, what ever it may be.