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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Beautiful

Starring: Minnie Driver, Joey Lauren Adams
Director: Sally Field
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: September 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Jordan Lund, Ali Landry, Kathleen Turner, Michael McKean, Kathleen Robertson, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows video review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review video review
3.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Susan Granger
½ star out of 4

Mark Twain once said, "A soiled baby with a neglected nose cannot be conscientiously regarded as a thing of beauty." As a corollary, this clumsy satire forces audiences to spend two hours with Mona Hibbard, a vain, self-centered, thoroughly disagreeable protagonist, played by Minnie Driver, in her grating quest for the Miss America-like beauty pageant crown. Mona was born in a shack in Naperville, Illinois, to white-trash parents who apparently tolerated her passion for entering beauty contests while fostering her low self-esteem. Now the mother of an illegitimate daughter, she passes off the little girl (Hallie Kate Eisenberg, instantly recognizable from Pepsi TV commercials) as the daughter of her best-friend/ room-mate (Joey Lauren Adams) - which becomes a problem when the maternal care-giver implausibly winds up in jail. And we're supposed to believe that the precocious child doesn't know who her real mother is! Jon Bernstein's manipulative, cliche-filled screenplay sinks below soap-opera, as Mona's secret could be exposed by an inquiring TV reporter (Leslie Stefanson) whose own ambitions were thwarted by Mona several years earlier in an incident involving dumping industrial-strength adhesive on her flaming, twirling baton. Actress Sally Field makes her directorial debut with this film; mercifully, she can never sink lower. Nor can Kathleen Turner, inexcusably chewing up the scenery as Mona's pageant mentor. There is one funny moment, though, when Mona sings "The Wind Beneath My Wings" to a pregnant woman about to give birth in a supermarket. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Beautiful" barely manages a shallow 2. If you're intrigued by beauty contests, rent Michael Ritchie's satirical "Smile" or the more recent "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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