Dumplin’ (2018)

Dumplin’
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Kristin Hahn
Based on: Julie Murphy’s novel
Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston, Odeya Rush, Maddie Baillio, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Luke Benward, Georgie Flores, Dove Cameron, Harold Perrineau
Seen on: 18.5.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) fatmisia

Plot:
Willowdean (Danielle Macdonald), known by most people as Will, but always Dumplin’ to her mother, is a fat teenager who is actually rather comfortable with herself. She lives with her mother Rosie (Jennifer Aniston), a former beauty queen who is still very active in organizing the pageant. After a fight with her mother, Will decides to compete in the pageant – horrifying her mother and inspiring some other girls who never thought they would to go for it, too.

Dumplin’ is a cute film but I thought that it lost a little too much compared to the book. If I hadn’t read the book, I probably would have loved it completely, but in comparison, it just feels a little disappointing.

The film poster showing to spotlights, one shining on Will (Danielle Macdonald) and one on her mother Rosie (Jennifer Aniston).

[Slight SPOILERS]

I know that it’s not easy to make an entire book fit into a film and I don’t expect an adaptation to stick religiously to what the book did and have everything happen just so. But in this case, I thought that the film lost all the most revolutionary parts of the novel and that was just disappointing. Film!Hannah (Bex Taylor-Klaus) is white and may or may not be gay, it’s not worth mentioning, where book!Hannah is explicitely a lesbian and a girl of color. Millie (Maddie Baillio) doesn’t get to win the pageant. Amanda disappears altogether. The fight between Will and Ellen (Odeya Rush) feels flat, and the relationship with Bo (Luke Benward) is practically non-existent.

All of this means that the revolution this should be all about doesn’t actually feel all that revolutionary anymore. And that really is an issue for me. It’s not like the book turned the entire world upside down, but it definitely was more rebellious, and that’s what I wanted from the film as well.

Will (Danielle Macdonald) surrounded by the girls she inspired to take part in the pageant.

Leaving that aside, though, Dumplin’ is very enjoyable. The performances are excellent (Macdonald really does it again), it moves along at a quick pace and the film is utterly engaging. I was definitely emotionally involved.

So, it’s not that the film was bad or that you shouldn’t watch it. Quite to the contrary. Give me every story about (fat) girls coming together and kicking ass, Dumplin’ included.

Will (Danielle Macdonald) looking doubtfully at her mother Rosie (Jennifer Aniston) in full beauty queen get-up.

Summarizing: sweet and fun.

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