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May 17, 2019

Dumplin (2018) --- “Find Out Who You Are & Do It On Purpose.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
   Willowdean "Dumplin/Will" Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) spends the majority of her childhood being raised by her aunt Lucy (Hilliary Begley) because of her mother and former pageant queen, Rosie Dickson’s (Jennifer Aniston) various pageant commitments force her to distance herself from Will. Over the years, Aunt Lucy imparts self-confidence, a love for Dolly Parton, and introduces Will to her best friend Ellen Dryver (Odeya Rush). But six months before the girls start their senior year Lucy dies and now Rosie finds difficulty connecting with Will, who is resentful and embarrassed by her mother's world. Pageant season is the biggest event in her small Texas town and Will views them as ridiculous events that overemphasized beauty standards and refuses to support them, she decides to sign up in protest. However, her protest escalates when other contestants follow in her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and her town. Directed by Anne Fletcher (Hot Pursuit), written by Kristin Hahn (Anthem, Stargirl), and based on the novel by Julie Murphy, Netflix’s Dumplin (2018) is a beautiful coming of age story filled with laughs and tears.

   The entire film revolves around Will’s participation in the pageant and her strong opinion about the whole process but it never tries to paint the image that “pageants are bad for women.” For example, with characters like Hannah (Bex Taylor-Klaus) playing the part of “down with the patriarchy,” the story allows for characters like Millie (Maddie Baillio) to validate that their love for pageantry is not misguided or rooted in a desire to fit in. As a result, everyone’s participation in the pageant and ultimately taking it seriously is not frowned upon but rather seen as an accomplishment with high praises. While the film tries to make a point about body positivity, by sending the message that everyone’s body is okay, this is where the film fell a bit flat and yet this actually made the film work even better. Rather than follow a typical and expected plotline about body positivity, the story actually focuses on Will trying to get her mom’s attention and respect as well as coming to terms with the recent death of her Aunt Lucy.
   The cast performances were good but the highlight of the film is the romance between Will and Bo (Luke Benward). Their romance is cute but not overly sweet. It wasn’t based on him “seeing something different” or being her knight in shining armor but rather it focuses on how he genuinely likes Will for her wit, beauty, and attitude, and calls her out on her cowardice when he says as much. By confronting her insecurity and babying her, their romantic relationship is more enjoyable and the build-up to their crescendo is even more anticipated.

   Overall, Netflix’s Dumplin (2018) is a sweet, hilarious, and does exactly what it set out to do. Although the story does have an undertone about body positivity, the main focus of the story is the relationship between Will and Rosie, and Will coming to grips with life without aunt Lucy. The cast performances were good and the relationship between Will and Bo was sweet but not overly so. It was realistic and heartfelt. I highly recommend that you check out this film, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Final Vote --- 7.5 of 10 stars

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