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Rated 3.03 stars
by 229 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Fun Beauty Pageant Movie
by Betty Jo Tucker

Don’t give up on Dumplin’  because the first few minutes seem like a commercial for Dolly Parton. That part of the film shows us how important Parton has become to the main character and her friends. Later Parton sings some lines from “Girl in the Movies”-- an Oscar-worthy song -- as part of the background music.  And other Parton songs are heard throughout this fun offering. But the main theme deals with how an outspoken daughter convinces her mother to change the way she looks at her as well as at the local Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant, which she runs.

Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Anniston square off as daughter and mom, but Macdonald wins the acting honors as a youngster who has grown up ignoring comments about her weight. However, it’s obvious she hates hearing mom call her Dumplin’. She also has an obsession for Dolly Parton songs and sings them or quotes from them in many scenes.  

Why does Willadean (Macdonald) decide to enter the local beauty pageant? To protest and revolutionize it, of course. But consider the obstacles. First of all, she must get her mom’s signature on the entrance form. Then there’s the talent section. What can she do? Plus, how will the other contestants AND the audience AND the judges react to her as a contestant for the Blue Bonnet Teen Beauty Queen title?

Although Willadeen is brave and resourceful, it will also take the help of her friends and some creative drag queens to make her plan remotely workable. And support from her cool boyfriend (Luke Benward) would be icing on the cake.             

Beauty pageants – easy to spoof.

Here comes Dumplin’ with lots of proof.

Plus-size daughter of former queen

fails to think these events are keen.


But mom is still involved in one.

Daughter thinks crashing should be done.

Judging by looks comes into play

And then falls hard – in a good way.


Background music adds razzmatazz

even when sung without much jazz.

Dolly Parton tunes can’t go wrong.

She ranks tops in the world of song!

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am a pushover for movies that spoof beauty pageants. My favorite is Drop Dead Gorgeous. I can’t stop smiling whenever I think about that one. But Dumplin’ also includes all the things I enjoy about these flicks, especially the auditions, interviews and talent sequences. I give Willadean’s surprising interview scene and talent finale a high rating. Guess I must also confess to being a big Dolly Parton fan.  However, I’m disappointed by the small amount of time given to “Girl in the Movies” here. I expected to hear more than a few lines of this terrific new song.

Directed by Anne Fletcher and based on Kristin Hahn’s screenplay (adapted from the novel by Julie Murphy), Dumplin’ delivers an important message and also ends up being a must-see for Dolly Parton fans as well as for people who love films about beauty pageants.   

(Released by Netflix and rated “PG-13” for brief strong language.)

For more information about Dumplin’, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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