Well, for the sake of full disclosure, I read about 50 pages of Dumplin’. Then the ereader app I was using logged me out and I lost my password so I hadn’t found myself another way to read the rest of the book before I got to watching the newest Netflix film . . .
I was very excited.
If you haven’t heard, Dumplin‘ is about a plus-sized girl who enters a beauty pageant (run by her mother) to prove that girls of all sizes should be included in what is culturally considered beautiful. There’s also so much Dolly Parton music and I just love Dolly Parton so much so this is wonderful okay.
The movie has great, important themes, about body confidence and plus-sized representation, about loving yourself and about recognizing that every type of person is deserving of love.
I want to talk about the few sour notes first. (None of which involve Dolly Parton’s music, which is pitch perfect and will never be criticized on this blog.)
Willowdean, “Will”, “Dumplin'”, our main character, really dislikes herself. Almost all of her character revolves not just around her appearance but her own perception of her appearance. She sometimes makes the wrong assumptions about what others think about her, which leads to her doing some not very kind things. For which there are no repercussions.
My question was, if everyone else in the film is made to consider their past actions and change their view, and if Willowdean has some soul-searching to do as well, there should have been at least more of an apology from her. Because it seems like through her character arc she comes to improve herself, but not necessarily apologize for the mistakes she’s made along the way.
There were a few clunky pieces of the script, that I think comes from adapting something from a novel. Not having read the book, there were times when characters would appear or lines of dialogue would come up, and I’d think to myself that it sounds like that should be something significant. Something I should care about. Except they haven’t taken the time in the context of the movie to develop it properly so I have no idea where these things are coming from.
Overall though, it’s a very fun movie, and I think that I’ll end up watching it again. The tone of it is a fun, bright comedy, the sort you always want to put on in the summer after a long day out in the sun. Some of the jokes made me laugh out loud. Millie is possibly the best character I’ve seen in a while. I love her so much and she’s so strong and nice and no one is ever allowed to hurt her.
It’s also a beautiful movie visually. I love the costume choices and the lighting used throughout just helps to emphasize the cheery, teen romcom-y atmosphere. I have no idea what the budget was for this movie, but it seems to be proof that you don’t need big sets to make scenes that really land.
Also, I just have to say that I love watching movies that discuss mother/daughter relationships. The whole typical embarrassing mom, as they try to come to understand each other. Sure, not everyone’s mom is Jennifer Aniston (I was very surprised to see her cast in this movie and very pleased with how she played her role). Dumplin’ does what many teen movies don’t: it makes parents into actual characters, not just cardboard stereotypes that never seem to care where their children are at all hours of the night. Willowdean and her mother have their differences. At times, Will is so incredibly mean to her mother, and her mother doesn’t seem to understand anything Will is going through. But I loved that their relationship had such an emphasis in the plot.
Overall, I say give this a watch. It’s not long nor is it complicated. It’s fun, funny, and leaves you with a good feeling and Dolly Parton’s music ringing in your head. Actually, I think I’m going to have to go and check out that soundtrack . . .