The Makeover

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Makeover Movie Poster Image
Soapy Pygmalion story is benign, with a bit of romance.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters value education most highly, and are using politics to implement deeply held convictions and principles. Some sexist messages about women in politics.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The majority of the main characters are principled and caring; some characters are presented as uneducated and doltish. The cast lacks racial and ethnic diversity.


Some flirting and kissing; one reference to two characters not "getting with" each other.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking at parties; the main character is a beer vendor and another character asks frequently for beer and Irish coffee.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Makeover is a made-for-TV romance and is mostly inoffensive, with no cursing, nudity, or violence. There are some sexist (if realistic) messages, as Stiles is criticized for her looks and demeanor as a female candidate for Congress. Many of the characters in the movie with strong Boston accents also presented as simple or even criminal. There are some references to drinking: One character asks for Irish coffee just before she shakes down a campaign; one of the main characters is a beer vendor and we see empty bottles being collected from a party.

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What's the story?

After a failed run for the House of Representatives, a dejected Hannah Higgins (Julia Stiles) turns back to her educational consulting company. That is, until one day beer vendor Elliot Doolittle (David Walter) wanders into her office, hoping she can help him improve his diction, soften his "wicked" Boston accent, and clean him up so he can get a better job. Higgins makes a bet with her BFF and campaign manager Colleen (Camryn Manheim) that not only can she polish Doolittle's rough ways, she can take him all the way into the political position she failed to win. But it's not all politics between Elliot and Hannah: romantic sparks soon fly between these mismatched colleagues.

Is it any good?

Goofy, soapy and yet pleasant, The Makeover coasts on the multitudinous charms of its cast. There's charming interplay between a relaxed Manheim, an upright-and-uptight Stiles, and louche beer vendor Walter, who unfortunately boasts the most horrible BAAAAAHSTAN accent ever. It's worse than Norm from Cheers. Walton's Doolittle calls himself a "beeeeh vendah" and it gets worse from there. "Wicked," "chowderheads," and pahking the cah in the yahd all make appearances.

If viewers can ignore that (and most non-Bostonians will be able to), this movie is a fine, if predictable way to while away a few hours. Stiles and Walter are cute together, the classic Pygmalion story is given a pleasingly postmodern gender switch, and the story ticks along easily enough, not consuming too much brain power to digest. If you like this kind of thing -- this thing being "Hallmark Channel romances" -- you'll like this particular thing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • This story is a play on a classic tale known as Pygmalion. Have you seen other Pygmalion takeoffs, such as My Fair Lady or She's All That? How does The Makeover compare with these other adaptations?

  • Do you think that the political landscape as shown in The Makeover is realistic? Can a candidate come from nowhere like in the movie and run for federal office? Why is there so little reference to the cost of running a political campaign in this movie?

  • Are we supposed to like the characters in The Makeover? What about the way they are presented leads you to this conclusion? How are they dressed? What music plays while we see them? How do they look and act?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and romance

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