Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Dumplin’ (2018)

Number Rolled: 40
Movie Name/Year: Dumplin’ (2018)
Tagline: Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: COTA Films, Echo Films
Producer: Mohamed AlRafi, Jennifer Aniston, Michael Costigan, Kristin Hahn, Trish Hofmann, Danny Nozell, Kelly Todd, Christopher Tricarico
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Kristin Hahn, Julie Murphy
Actors: Danielle Macdonald, Odeya Rush, Jennifer Aniston, Maddie Baillio, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Luke Benward, Georgie Flores, Dove Cameron, Harold Perrineau, Kathy Najimy, Joshua Allan Eads, Hilliary Begley, Sam Pancake, Dan Finnerty, Molly McNearney, Tian Richards, Ryan Dinning, Andrew Fletcher, Taegen Burns, Brooke Hartzog

Blurb from Netflix: To prove a point about measuring up and fitting in, Texas teen Willowdean Dickson enters a local pageant run by her ex-beauty queen mom.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer for this film did nothing for me.

I’m so sick of films that seem to buy into the current movements while just perpetuating the worst of it. In this case, the body positivity movement is targeted. They up the scale of bullying, they make the main character a stereotypical ‘fat girl’ in many ways, and they don’t shift very much from the tropes.

At least, that’s what I figured I’d be saying at the end.

Where the film wasn’t perfect, and it did make me roll my eyes quite a bit, it felt more like Angus (1995) than the more tropey, unsalvageable movies out there.

I wound up not hating it as much as I thought I would.

Still, if I’m looking for something like Dumplin’, I’m just going to watch Angus. It’s a better film with a better cast and a MUCH better script. Angus is less stereotypical and it tells a better story.

Dumplin’ did do a few things well. They left out some expected tropes that are usually quite annoying. Still, I find myself watching and wondering if they just tried to make my old favorite with a female protagonist and a pageant-based story.

I’m so irked that Dumplin’ is turning out to be more popular than Angus was. The only big difference is that it came out in a more accepting time.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie gave me a serious case of the feels. It might be contagious. If you start getting misty-eyed while watching this film, the only cure for it is to make sure to watch it all the way through.

Not only does this Netflix Original have a powerful positive message front and center; there are other themes that run deeper, threaded throughout the story.

The story registered as genuine, with dialogue and scenarios that felt authentic rather than plastic or cookie cutter teen drama. There was substance here. I can’t help but wonder if the author of the book the movie was based on, Julie Murphy (Side Effects May Vary, Dumplin', Ramona Blue), experienced anything like this as she was growing up. I digress.

The streaming giant certainly lived up to expectations for this one, and then some.

Can we talk about the cast? I had this nagging feeling that I’d seen lead, Danielle Macdonald (Every Secret Thing, The Rachels, Patti Cake$), in something recently. That project was likely Bird Box (2018), where she played Olympia. I’m glad for her role here, because this production really let her shine.

Part of my feels-train while watching this movie was that I identified almost on a painful level with the main character of this story. 

That was me in high school. I haven’t been a small person since about 3rd grade. It’s one of the biggest struggles I’ve had in my life. I was lost until I literally found my voice and some modicum of peace within myself. While my inspiration wasn’t as clear-cut and themed as the character’s reverence of Dolly Parton (Gnomeo & Juliet, Joyful Noise, A Country Christmas Story), I can certainly relate.

Getting back to the cast -- MacDonald wasn’t the only familiar face from projects on both the large and small screens. From Jennifer Aniston (Just Go With It, Horrible Bosses, Mother's Day) and Odeya Rush (The Giver, Goosebumps, Dear Dictator) to Disney Channel darlings Dove Cameron (Barely Lethal, Descendants, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Luke Benward (Ravenswood, Field of Lost Shoes, Life of the Party), there was a plethora of talent involved with this movie. I am looking forward to sharing this one with my daughter sometime soon.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 78%
Metascore – 53/100
Metacritic User Score – 8.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

P.S. IMDb qualifies Dumplin’ as a musical. Trust the Dice would like to add that if it is considered a musical at all, it would be a jukebox musical. Even then, just barely.

Movie Trailer:

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