Dolly Parton has just about everything. She’s got her own theme park, eight Grammy awards, and is one of the most respected female country artists of all time. From a musical career, to television and Broadway, Parton’s truly got one of the best “rags to riches” stories of all time, but I digress. The latest jewel in Parton’s collection is a little movie called “Dumplin’,” in which her music inspires a young plus-size girl to enter a beauty pageant in the deep south.
A Netflix original movie, “Dumplin’” features Danielle MacDonald as Willowdean, a confident teenager who has a seemingly normal life, apart from the fact that her mom Rosie (Jennifer Aniston) runs a pageant empire. Throw in some best friend drama, a cute-as-heck boy (Luke Benward), and a “mean girl” who turns out to be not so awful (Dove Cameron) and you’ve got a diamond in the rough of Netflix originals. The whole movie runs quite like any other coming-of-age drama would, but what sets it apart is the soundtrack.
From the first scene, where Willowdean sits in the back of the car with Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde” crackling in through the radio, it is clear the soundtrack is carrying the movie. With songs like “Who,” “9 to 5” and “Girl in the Movies,” director Anne Fletcher tackles themes of beauty, grief and individuality through lyrical genius. Parton even collaborated with MacDonald and created a masterful rendition of “Here You Come Again,” which played during one of the film’s penultimate scenes.
“Dumplin’” also deals with stereotypes in a big way, no pun intended. Willowdean accidentally starts a rebellion in the pageant world. She stumbles into a drag club late one night to find some really great guys, and they help her gain the confidence she needs to walk out on that stage. In doing so, she stands up for all those who don’t look like a “typical” pageant girl.
I don’t think “Dumplin’” is an Oscar-award winning masterpiece by any means. It’s just a feel-good flick with an exceptional message, serenaded by the one and only, Dolly Parton. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a little drag and Dolly, or if you’ve just got some extra time on your hands.