Most of the time when I talk about a new blu-ray from Warner Archive, it’s typically a film of the classic Hollywood era, spanning from the 1930s through the 1960s. That’s not the range of everything Warner Archive puts out on blu-ray and DVD, there are no limits to the age of titles they release. Their most recent blu-ray is an example of such, the very welcomed HD debut of a beloved cult classic from the last 20 years. 1999’s beauty pageant satire “Drop Dead Gorgeous” didn’t make much of a splash upon release. It barely made a mark at the box offices and reviews were largely mixed, leaning towards the negative.
I saw “Drop Dead Gorgeous” when it came out on home video originally, I liked it and thought it was fine. But revisiting the film this weekend was the first time I had seen it in nearly 20 years. I was delighted the find the film is just as funny, wild, outrageous, and wonderfully dark as ever. “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is a mockumentary, but unlike other well-known mockumentaries like “Waiting For Guffman” the film was scripted, not improvised. A film crew heads to the fictional town of Mount Rose, Minnesota to document the local chapter of the annual Sarah Rose American Teen Princess Pageant, whose winner will then go on to compete in the state title.
The head of the local pageant is former beauty queen Gladys Leeman (Kristie Alley) who is overwhelmed with joy that this will be the year her daughter, Rebecca (Denise Richards) gets to compete. But she isn’t the only local beauty queen hoping to win the title. There’s the sweet and hopeful wannabe news anchor Amber (Kristen Dunst), and the popular cheerleader Leslie (Amy Adams, in her first movie role) among the ones who are all gunning for the title. And gunning is the right word for it, as it gets closer and closer to the day of the show, contestants start to drop dead in hunting accidents, farm explosions, and an incident with faulty stage equipment.
“Drop Dead Gorgeous” is a pitch-black comedy filled with characters anyone who ever spent time in an American high school will instantly recognize. The documentary framing serves the storytelling well. From the gossip of a small town to the literal backstabbing around this particular pageant, to some wonderfully over the top scenarios, the film well deserves its growing title as a cult classic. One of those comedies that were never going to be a massive mainstream hit, but with time would find the audience it so richly deserves.
Warner Archive’s new blu-ray of “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is taken from a new 2K scan of the film. It looks great. The sharp and clear with solid color tones, an improvement over the old DVD to say the least. There’s no bonus material included, much like the original DVD release, but the film’s trailer is included.
The film is so wonderfully over the top and funny, a joy to see it get a beautiful looking blu-ray. If you’ve been in the film’s cult for years, this is the upgrade you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve never seen it, now is a perfect time. It might just be perfectly cathartic for this awful year. You can get a copy by going to www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive. See you next week.