This Netflix movie felt all too familiar—perhaps it’s because the streaming giant has already done a TV version called Insatiable.
This post for Dumplin’ contains minor spoilers.
Without knowing much about Dumplin’ (2018, directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Kristin Hahn), I decided to watch it when it dropped on Netflix on Friday. This is also all thanks to Jennifer Aniston’s appearance on The Ellen Show, where she was doing press for the movie. In case anyone doesn’t know, Dumplin’ is actually based on a novel of the same name by author Julie Murphy. The story follows the plus-size teenager—and worshipper of country singer Dolly Parton—Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) who decides to join her mother’s (Aniston) beauty pageant so as to create some sort of rebellion against pageantry.
I’m going to be honest and admit that the movie lost my attention in the first 10 minutes, and I had to rewind back to the beginning to figure out who is this Aunt Lucy (Hilliary Begley) that Willowdean showed so much appreciation for. And a complete sidenote here… for a good 5 minutes I had thought that Aunt Lucy was played by Chrissy Metz; but no, it was just another actress who looks exactly like Metz.
Anyway, I felt that Dumplin’ lacked explanation on a lot of subplots. It’s as if the movie was missing script pages because can anyone tell me how did Aunt Lucy die? I can’t. Though it might not have been completely necessary to reveal that information, I felt that if this supporting character is going to be a huge part of the lead character’s life, then why is such information not revealed to audiences? 🤔
Additionally, I felt that Aniston’s character Rosie in this movie was so poorly written, or either Aniston was miscast as Willowdean’s mom. It makes no sense to me how a mom who neglected her child when she was growing up—because the mom was too busy winning beauty pageants—can actually have the child in the first place? Also who is Willowdean’s dad? 🤔
And it didn’t help that this movie felt reminiscent of Netflix’s controversial television series Insatiable.
Beauty pageant: ✅
Southern accents: ✅
Body shaming scenes: ✅
Unhealthy mother-daughter relationships: ✅
Single parent: ✅
Jesus worship: ✅
Idolising a real life celebrity: ✅
I could probably find more themes that are present in both Dumplin’ and Insatiable, but I shall not digress further.
The only redeeming factor of this movie is probably the soundtrack—thank you Dolly Parton!—and the acting from Macdonald.
I could really feel Macdonald embodying this character a hundred percent. I believed the self-consciousness of Willowdean when she refused to believe that a cute boy like Bo (Luke Benward) could like someone of her body size. It’s the realistic insecureness of Willowdean that made this movie somewhat enjoyable because everything else was kind of mundane.