During the days before and after Christmas, I was really sick. Like, bent over with coughing, chest hurting, PA at the Urgent Care clinic stayed 10 feet away from me during my visit, sick. And while the timing of the holiday made it so that I was able to be home for a good chunk of time without having to go to work, and because I had some sick leave, I could stay home, I still had the baby to take care of (at least part of the time), and so it wasn’t until later in the Christmas week that I had a day at home by myself where I didn’t have any obligations (except pumping milk), and could try to relax.
And so I turned to Netflix. I finished up a show I had been watching on another service, and then decided I needed something light and fluffy to enjoy – because who wants to think deeply and deal with deep emotions when they’re already trying to recover physically? Not me. So I decided to watch Dumplin’.
Dumplin’ is based on a YA book (which seems to be all the rage these days for turning into movies), one which I’ve actually had on my “to read” list since before it was released, and then when I heard there was going to be a movie of it, I was really excited in a selfish way. Partly because it meant I would get to enjoy the story, and partly because I wouldn’t feel obligated to read the book. Especially when I have more than 2600 books on my “To Read” list – a list that grows faster than I could ever keep up with.
And luckily the movie is adorable. First off, there’s lead actress Danielle Macdonald, who is just plain charismatic and lovable as as our protagonist Willowdean. She is able to play these very quick transitions between the the joys in Willowdean’s life and the frustrations and shame she deals with from her mother (played by Jennifer Aniston). With such a strong lead character, it’s easy to fall into this world where there are drag queens, and lots of Dolly Parton songs. Because guys – that’s the second best part about this movie. All the Dolly Parton. My personal love of Dolly is tied up in Christmas (Have you heard Once Upon A Christmas? It’s classic!), so getting a bonus dose of her during this movie at the time of year I love her most when I was feeling down in the dumps was a treat.
The story is pretty straightforward, and if you’ve read enough books and seen enough movies, the plot is one you’ll probably be able to guess at as you go along. Willowdean is plus-size, and she’s ok with that. Her mother is a former beauty queen who now runs the local pageant. The plot happens, and Willowdean ends up entering the pageant with some other not-quite-perfect girls and enlisting the help of some Dolly-loving drag queens who were friends of her recently deceased Aunt to help them in participating. There is a romance on the side (because it’s a YA story), but it’s sweet, but also doesn’t really contribute to the main plot.
Basically, Dumplin’ is fluff. It’s got a good message, it’s got a fun story told by charming actors, and delightful music, but it’s predictable. If you are looking for something that will surprise you or challenge the way that you think (unless maybe you’re the kind of person who thinks that a fat person doesn’t deserve love, acceptance, or opportunities, and in this case, it would definitely teach you something), this is not the place to look. But if you want a cute story and a fun way to pass a few hours, Dumplin’ is your movie. And if you happen to be home holed up with pneumonia, it will definitely brighten your day.
Details: Dumplin’, screenplay by Kristin Hahn, directed by Anne Fletcher. Streaming on Netflix.