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Beautiful is just bad, sadly. Where's the plot?
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

What parents need to know


Minor character commits suicide.


Out of wedlock pregnancy, brief attempted molestation.


Brief bad language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters abuse alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie has occasional strong language and sexual references (mild by PG-13 standards, but still vivid). Mona cheats in the pageants, causing serious damage to another contestent's hand, without any remorse. Indeed the injured woman's bitterness is portrayed with as much callousness as though the screenwriter shared Mona's conviction that all that counts is winning. There is an out of wedlock pregnancy and a minor character commits suicide by taking pills.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Mona is a little girl who lives with a mother who does not seem to care much about her and with her mother's out-of-work boyfriend, who does not like her at all. So, she makes her bedroom into a private world, decorated with cheery little signs that say things like, "Never give up!" and "U can do it!" For her, beauty pageants are a vision of perfection, grace, and validation. So, she decides that what she needs to make her feel beautiful and loved is to win one or maybe all of them. She earns money for lessons and braces and does statistical analysis of each year's winners. She picks just one girl from school to be her friend -- the one who can sew costumes for her. When she grows up, Mona (Minnie Driver) is relentless. She is incapable of any thought that does not relate to winning a pageant. Her friend Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams) is happy to devote all of her efforts to Mona's competitions, too. When obstacles arise, Ruby takes care of them, from smoothing over allegations of cheating at a pageant to becoming the mother of Mona's child (Hallie Eisenberg). A parent or guardian is ineligible to be Miss American Miss. And nothing must get in Mona's way.

Is it any good?


Driver does her best, but, sadly, she gets no help from BEAUTIFUL's producers (14 of them!). She gets no help from the screenwriter, whose only previous credit was Jerry Springer's "Ringmaster." Driver does not even get much help from first-time feature director (but two-time Best Actress) Sally Field. The people in this movie can't even be referred to as "characters" because they do not behave like any human being who ever thought, spoke, or breathed. The actors might as well be wearing signs that say, "Plot device!" as they are moved around the set like chess pieces, because that is the only possible explanation for their behavior. And basic elements of plot are slapdash or just missing. In other words, this is a bad movie.

The movie has some funny moments. Kathleen Turner is magnificent as a beauty pageant diva. One pageant contestant announces that she has a double degree in genetic engineering and cosmetology, and another has a ventriloquist act. When a woman goes into labor in a grocery store, Mona seizes the opportunity to get some good publicity and pushes her to the hospital in a shopping cart, singing, "Wind Beneath My Wings." But these bright spots are just not worth the sloppy mess that comes along. Maybe sixty years ago Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins or Mary Astor might have pulled off this kind of a plot (come to think of it, they did, in The Big Lie and Old Acquaintance). Maybe 30 years ago, Carol Burnett could have pulled off a parody version. But with these people and in this decade, it is not just bad -- it is positively annoying.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Mona's comment that love is a language that has to be taught, and Ruby's comment about letting bad things go. More cynical family members may want to count up the logical inconsistencies and plot holes.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 29, 2000
DVD release date:February 20, 2001
Cast:Hallie Eisenberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Minnie Driver
Director:Sally Field
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language and thematic elements

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bywonder dove January 10, 2013

Cute flick!

Okay! This film may be cheesy, but it is a guilty pleasure! After seeing it on TV many years ago, I wanted it ever since. Now that I'm older, it's far too silly for my liking so it's something I would recommend for tweens because they seem to really enjoy it and it has some really good messages about being yourself. Mona as a child has always wanted to win beauty pageants...but she's not pretty enough with bad teeth, crazy hair and a funny sense of style. Her mother is fed up with her and doesn't support her dreams at all. Mona saves her money and attends beauty lessons and gets braces. When she meets her new best friend at school named Ruby, they are like glue, inseparable and do everything together. Mona turns into a beautiful adult, gets pregnant and realizes she can't participate in pageants if she has a kid - so Ruby takes over as mom. Mona and her daughter do not have a good relationship. Soon, Ruby has a problem with the law and is taken away while Mona must juggle taking care of her own child and taking on more responsibilities. Just when she is about to win the pageant of her life, Mona realizes how much she loves her daughter and confesses on stage to everyone who she is and why she lied. Great little movie but language is an issue...lots of name calling even by a small child and some cussing. Not much violence at all - an old woman overdoses on pills to commit suicide. Sexual content includes a reference to molestation, Mona is wild and goes with any guy, a pregnancy, some brief talk about men, a joke or two. Some drinking. This story does have good messages though and is inspirational to kids who have dreams. Worth a look!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Adult Written byprmamii678 January 19, 2009

man i wanna watch it.

i love this moie so much. its so funny,.


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