Thursday 3 January 2019

Dumplin' (2018)

With a few exceptions —Annihilation and Apostle are the only I can think of right now— Netflix originals have been quite disappointing this year —Outlaw King, in particular— so I wasn't sure whether to give Dumplin' a chance or not, especially since there's Jennifer Aniston. But then some other blogger, I don't recall who, said it was fun so I gave it a try. 

The film follows Willowdean (Danielle MacDonald), the plus-size daughter of a former beauty queen, Rosie (Jennifer Aniston) who was raised by her Aunt Lucy (Hillary Begley). After an argument with her mother —Will accuses Rosie of being resentful of her for her looks, and Rosie insinuates that Lucy would still be alive if she had taken better care of herself— Will signs up for the Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant, preseeded by her mother, as a protest which escalates when other misfits, Millie (Maddie Baillio) and Hannah (Bex Taylor-Klaus), follow her footsteps and sing up for the pageant. 

Plot-wise, the film isn't particularly strong as it is clichéd, cheesy and predictable —at least the beauty pageant ends in a plausible, realistic way—, and Will meets surprisingly few obstacles and the conflicts with the mother and best friend are resolved too easily. This isn't, however, important as the simple story is quite a charming and heartwarming one that delivers an important message of self-acceptance and self-love. 

The characters of Willowdean could have been more likeable though as she comes off as a kind of grumpy and boring girl with not much of a personality —her soon-to-become friend Millie is way more likeable and charming, and has more personality than her— which makes it difficult to believe that a guy like Luke Benward could throw himself at her, especially when Miss America is throwing herself at him. Danielle MacDonald does a really nice job though, and despite the poor writing Will ends up being sympathetic.

The other characters too could have used more depth, to be honest. Aunt Lucy —not Paddington's sweet aunt— has a huge impact on Will's life and yet we know nothing about her. At some point, we learn that she frequented a Dolly Parton themed drag queen bar but there isn't any sort of explanations. Was Aunt Lucy a drag herself or is it just random? As for the drag characters, they are only used as comic relief and their struggles are acknowledge at all. 

The highlight of the movie easily is the soundtrack. Dolly Parton's songs are always a delight and really help to lift the film up.

Ultimately, Dumplin' could have used more depth —we can't really complain though, it's not like Anne Fletcher made masterpieces in the past—, but it still quite fun and entertaining, and delivers a nice message. 


  1. It was probably me, I adored this movie. I agree it's very shallow but it was so nice that I stopped caring.

    1. Adore is a big word for me, but I liked it way more than I should have.

  2. I do like Danielle MacDonald as she was impressive in Patti Cake$ as I also think she's a really beautiful woman. Plus-size women need more love.

    1. She is very beautiful indeed. I haven't seen Patti Cake$ but I've been meaning to.