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In the quiet Minnesota town of Mount Rose it's time for the annual American Teen Princess pageant. Sponsored by a cosmetics company, it offers a chance at undreamed of glory for one lucky girl. A documentary crew comes to town to cover the preliminary judging. The local contest is run by Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley) who picks the judges and whose daughter Becky (Denise Richards) is - coincidentally ? - one of the front-runners for the prize. Her main competition comes from Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) who lives in a trailer park with her hard-living mother (Ellen Barkin). Amber works part-time in the local mortuary, practicing her tap routines. But then several of the contestants meet with terrible, suspicious accidents. Is someone so determined to win they'll resort to murder?

Review by Louise Keller:
You can take the title literally - drop dead and gorgeous. Separately or put them together. If we ever wondered about beauty pageants and in what kind of zoo they belong, Drop Dead Gorgeous will offer some explanations, however improbable.

This mockumentary is a mischievous, cutting and tongue-in-cheek look backstage. We meet the ambitious mothers, the cut-throat contestants, the reigning anorexic beauty queen and the judges - from the pervert to the out-of-touch.

The best thing in Drop Dead Gorgeous is Ellen Barkin's crass, foul-mouthed, loving mother, whose pulsating ambition for her daughter never wavers. This is a quirky comedic Barkin that we haven't seen before, and she is really a sight to be seen. Kirsty Alley is great as the catty, stop-at-nothing mum while Denise Richards and Kirsten Dunst radiate in the spotlight.

It's energetic, fresh and full of black, off-beat humour, displaying claws galore and yowling foul-play. Enough to put you off even thinking about going into a beauty contest. Deadly in disposition, satirical in substance, Drop Dead Gorgeous is a fun escape into a world where beauty is definitely skin deep.

Published January 29, 2004

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CAST: Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Sam McMurray, Mindy Stirling

DIRECTOR: Michael Patrick Jann

SCRIPT: Lona Williams

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

PRESENTATION: Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 audio; English subtitles for the hearing impaired; widescreen 16: 9 enhanced

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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