DUMPLIN’ – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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So this is the dramedy about a fat girl in small-town Texas who, fed up with her former-beauty-queen mother, decides to enter the local pageant that her mother runs. Just to piss her off. And to throw a spanner in the works of the feminine-beauty-industrial complex. And to protest our society’s shallow focus on women’s physical appearances and the narrow range of acceptability therein. (The girl has ambition.) Dumplin’ — this is the former-beauty-queen mom’s rather horrible nickname for her fat daughter — is a movie about how girls and women come in all different shapes and sizes, not just out of a Barbie-doll mold, and with all different personalities and interests, far from just one wannabe-supermodel package. And about how — obviously, and yet you’d hardly know it from our popular discourse — that is absolutely fine, and that all these various girls and women are still real girls and women.

Dumplin’ is far from a perfect movie, but it’s a lovely one anyway — hey, kinda like its heroine! — one that warmly embraces a wide(ish) range of girls-and-women-as-people, one that doesn’t reduce its large heroine to nothing more than her size: she’s simply a cool, funny, confused, perplexed, messed-up human being who still has a lot of growing up to do (which is okay; she’s still in high school). But perhaps the most amazing thing about Dumplin’ in this regard is that there is more than one fat girl in this movie. Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).