America’s obsession with obesity and beauty pageants are the themes of this sweetly mawkish movie in which Jennifer Aniston plays a former beauty queen named Rosie Dickson who runs the annual beauty pageant in a small Texas town.
The event is the highlight of the town’s social calendar. Rosie has an overweight teenage daughter, Willowdean (Danielle Macdonald), whom she has nicknamed Dumplin’, and for whom she doesn’t have much regard.
Dumplin’ seems to exist in her mother’s shadow. Constantly ridiculed for her weight, Dumplin’ decides to enter her mother’s pageant to prove a point about self-worth and determination.
Based on the novel by Julie Murphy and directed by Anne Fletcher (of 27 Dresses fame), the movie makes some telling points and provides constantly amusing snapshots of a small Texas town where everybody looks forwards to the annual beauty pageant.
Australian actress Macdonald does a fine job opposite Aniston as the narrative treads a delicate line between reflecting the realities of life and trying to be politically correct.
Sentimental and bland could describe this production in which a highlight is Dumplin’ meeting a group of gay male Dolly Parton impersonators who come to her emotional rescue in her hour of need.
Aniston takes a borderline caricature and invests in its life history, providing her scenes with extra depth. She is also the movie’s executive producer.
Macdonald is excellent, bringing a matter-of-fact attitude to a role that could easily have been defined solely in terms of grief and self-pity.
Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston
Director: Anne Fletcher
Classification: 10-12 PG