Star rating: 3/5
This week I chose to watch the Netflix original movie “Dumplin’.”
“Dumplin’” is about a Texas high school girl, Willowdean (played by Danielle MacDonald), whose mother is famous around town for winning a pageant in the 90’s and now oversees the same pageant. The daughter Willowdean, also called Dumplin’ by her mother, Rosie Dickson (played by Jennifer Aniston), is a seemingly confident plus-sized teenager who enters her mother’s pageant to prove a point and defy the social norms of skinny girls running the pageants.
Before I get into this, let me get this out of the way, this movie is out of my element and isn’t geared to me an as audience, being that I’m a 20-something-year-old male. I’m also not a fan of country music and this movie is riddled with Dolly Parton songs (there’s a reason for that).
With those things aside, I tried to be as objective as possible with my review.
“Dumplin’” although fairly cheesy and predictable, is a fun, light-hearted, cutesy movie that has its place and ultimately, isn’t a bad watch.
Being that this movie is centered around teenage girls, finding their place among the tropes of high school groups, bullying and everything else that comes with that era of everyone’s lives, you can expect some cheesiness. Especially around the cringey interactions between a teenage girl and boy who find themselves crushing on each other.
Not only that, but you can also expect the small group of the sometimes weird, different and unpopular kids that sort of crowd the protagonist for whatever reason fits the particular high school movie. And, of course, you can expect the main teenager, to find herself among the rubble of the post-devastation that is a grade school mishap.
You can expect all those things from “Dumplin’”, in other words, it’s predictable in that way, and others.
Despite that, the movie isn’t bad. It’s just what you’d expect from a movie like this. Although, again, predictable, it is relatable (not really to me since I’m a male) to teenage girls and adults who have made it through the obstacle course of puberty and high school struggles.
In relation to those points, “Dumplin’” isn’t all that different from high school centered movies, as you might have picked up from all the “you can expect this and that” from before. But, what does make it different, is that it centers around two main themes that I saw.
The first is being comfortable in your own skin, regardless what you look like or things you like or where you come from, among other things. The second is woman empowerment and breaking the social constructs of what’s been deemed “acceptable” for women in specific areas, like being skinny and fit to compete and win in a beauty pageant.
Both of those themes are explored in this movie and I think it does that fairly well, however, in a predictable way.
The story and themes in this movie are relatable, even to me as a male, as everyone wants to feel accepted and wants to feel confident about themselves. In the same vein, because you can relate in that way, you’ll find yourself rooting for Willowdean and her fellow “revolutionaries,” as they call themselves in the movie.
The character development in “Dumplin’” is effective for Willowdean, as it should be, as it explores her past and why she has been the way she has and while she makes her transition into a better person.
However, the character development for almost all of the other characters is shallow and it could do with a little more exploration of them. However, they play their roles well as the supporting cast to Willowdean and serve their purpose in sending the message of the movie home to the audience.
All in all, “Dumplin’” has a great message to be confident about who you are and what you look like despite social constructs and what others may say. And, of course, all of the other themes that often come out of high school centered movies, value your friendships and don’t take them for granted, be yourself, etc.
Ultimately, “Dumplin’” is a movie you can sit down and watch with your significant other or your children after a long hard day as you try to relax and shut off your brain. It’s light-hearted, cute and a fun little movie to watch without having to concentrate or think too much.