Dumplin’ is Dumb

“What has happened to the world, that normal now passes for excellence?” That’s a quote from Widows, filmmaker Steve McQueen’s excellent heist film of a few weeks ago. I think of it now having seen perhaps one of the worst films of 2018, yet another Netflix original populating the bottom throes of the ninety or so pictures I’ve laid eyes on this year. Dumplin’ is a dumb excuse for hackneyed drama, humorless “comedy,” and inspirational cliches, all of it lathered in treacle tart wannabe-indie sadness. About an obese teenage girl (Danielle MacDonald) posturing as protest in a small-town beauty pageant, and her former beauty queen mother (Jennifer Aniston) who runs it, Anne Fletcher’s film is yet another exercise in futility in the wake of her semi-enjoyable Proposal of nine years ago. This is worse than Streisand’s would-be comeback The Guilt Trip or the Heigl vehicle 27 Dresses. Those had the benefit of charismatic movie stars doin’ a thang, not Aniston collecting a paycheck or MacDonald proving she’s no Melissa McCarthy. Maybe I’m a mean son-of-a-gun, but I don’t suffer fools gladly, and Dumplin, movie and character, is a fool of an endeavor. Much like the man-children of yesterday’s comedy, she’s unremarkable in almost every way. She sulks when people call her fat and she’s a fan of Dolly Parton, and there ain’t much else to it. Much like this movie, she’s not witty, wonderfully odd, or particularly smart at all. Her big “talent” is lip-syncing while somebody backstage does all the work for her. Her friend and fellow fat girl Millie Michalchuk (Maddie Baillio) would have made for a better lead, a beaming little ball of energy and friendly vigor who can actually sing. Dumplin‘ is a bad film celebrating mediocrity in a small town.

Grade: F

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