So last night, I finally watched the film adaptation of the book, Dumplin’. I wrote a review of the book a few months ago (which you can read here). The movie left a lot of things to be desired, but all in all it wasn’t too bad.
Willowdean Dickson (played by the lovely Danielle Macdonald) is a plus-sized teen who just happens to be the daughter of a former beauty pageant winner (played by Jennifer Aniston). But Willowdean is feisty, smart and has the confidence to hold her head up in a town that worships the skinny and beautiful. Grieving the loss of her Aunt Lucy, Willowdean (or Dumplin’, the unfortunate nickname given to her by her mother), she navigates her pain by immersing herself in all things Dolly Parton. That’s right, you heard me. Dolly Parton. Now don’t you dare laugh, because Dolly is a goddamn national treasure. I’ve been a fan of hers since I saw her in the film “9 To 5” and I love her to this day. But I digress.
Willowdean doesn’t seem to have any body issues until she starts messing around with private school hot guy, Bo (played by Luke Benward). She starts freezing up whenever he touches her and begins second-guessing her fierceness. I knew it was going to happen but it was still hard to watch. I like confident Will. But in the society we live in, and especially being the daughter of an obsessive beauty queen, a girl’s confidence can be tested. So in protest to all the craziness, Will signs up for the Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant. Seen as a revolutionary, other misfits from her school sign up for the pageant: her best friend Ellen (Odeya Rush), not really a misfit but she signs up anyway; Millie, another plus-sized teen with a heart of gold (Maddie Baillio); and angry girl Hannah (Bex Taylor-Kraus). I was annoyed at this last casting choice because in the book, Hannah is a Dominican teen (and yes, I know that there are plenty of Latinas who look white but we see that all the time). Instead, she was an angry goth fighting the patriarchy, a character that’s been done so many times.
For the most part, the movie was watchable, but I found myself wandering away from it at times. I couldn’t stand the so-called Texas accent because it’s the same accent Hollywood uses whenever the story takes place in the South (do some research, people). The film, like the book, had a great message, but it just felt tired. Instead of being on Netflix, Dumplin’ probably should have been released in theaters. So much more could have been done with a longer run time. It felt more like a TV special than a movie, which is a shame.
Did you watch Dumplin’? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.