Smile - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smile Reviews

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½ January 30, 2016
This was a film I'd always known about but never seen, but I think a case could be made that is is a hidden classic of the 1970s. The surface level story is a group of teen contestants at the California Young American Miss beauty pageant. The film's very reminiscent of Robert Altman's multi-character layered films, with an entraining surface story but a bitting subtext. Longer before Honey Boo Boo or Dance Mom's, Michael Ritchie used the teen girl beauty pageant as a biting satire of American's commercial and superficial values. The film was directed by Michael Ritchie, who made some of other classics like "The Candidate," "Prime Cut" and what I consider the greatest sports movie of all-time, "The Bad News Bears." The film was written by Jerry Belson, who I'd never heard of before, but looking at his IMDB page, he had some excellent TV writing credits that range from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" to "The Tracey Ullman Show" and also includes films like "Always" and uncredited work on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." So don't be fooled by this films' seemingly light tale of mean girl beauty pageant contestants, because this film is a whole lot more. Top all that off with an incredibly strong cast that includes Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon, Michael Kidd, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul Benedict and Dennis Dugan. And among the then unknown parent girls you have the soon-to-be-famous Melanie Griffith, Colleen Camp, Annette O'Toole and also Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde in "Willy Wonka and the chocolate Factory" and Caroline Williams who was on some iconic horror parts in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." The film was also shot by the great Conrad L. Hall, shot through a gauzy look. I also have to say I quite liked the soundtrack to this film too, which apparently is what held up the release of this film on home video for years. If you're fan of the subversively smart films that came out of Hollywood in the 70s or consider yourself a fan of Altman-style of films, you should definitely check out this film.
January 9, 2016
A look into beauty pageants back in the day.
½ January 5, 2016
While the sexism is era-appropriate, it appears to be called a satire solely to explain how offensive and horrible of a file it was. The acting was good, but the script, soundtrack, and story were awful.
March 9, 2015
Brilliant satire of the inherent flaws of beauty pageants, this subtle, yet laugh-out-loud 70s gem works amazingly on two levels - both as a slice-of-life view of the inner workings of the small town show, while also clearly commenting on the earnestness and motives of the supporters and contestants. It plays like a more subtle version of the film Little Miss Sunshine.
Insightful, innocent, heartbreaking, dark, and yet awkwardly hopeful and hilarious all the way through.
The uncanny portrayals and insights of the filmmakers make this an even more enjoyable treat. From the naive, cliched speeches, the bubbly off-key singing, and the off-kilter performances, to the back stage fussing and marital struggles being set aside for the sake of the show, this is a rather complete picture of small town pageant life with a tongue-in-cheek flair making it all the more entertaining.
The fact that it's characters are so naively innocent, earnest, and sarcasm-free makes it even more touching, authentic and completely hilarious.
Skewering the kkk and other lesser parts of Americana keep this on the darker side, so be aware.
A few things here are disconcerting for some. With that in mind, wow - what a crazy look at the times around my childhood, and what it looks like now.
A young Melanie Griffith and Annette O Toole are part of the fun too.
The movie went pretty much unnoticed when it first came out, but has since become a cult classic.
Enjoy!

5 hat-and-cane numbers out of 5
June 30, 2014
Ritchie was an astounding filmmaker who never got the recognition he so richly deserved. This film out not even a moth after and shares many of that film's stylistic quirks and, really, what film can go toe to toe with "Nashville"? Because of that it has never gotten the recognition it deserved. Now that we have DVD you can remedy that.
½ June 27, 2014
Kill me now. Drop Dead Gorgeous this ain't. And if I ever hear the song "The Old Bamboo" again in my lifetime, well, let's just say things will get severely ugly. But yeah, I spent enough time watching this movie to waste any more writing abou
½ December 31, 2013
A perfect sister piece to the much more beloved 'Nashville' from Altman, Michael Ritchie's satire of small town America is a giant barrel of fun. Springboarding from a state beauty pageant, the film skewers the sometimes strange values of these people, assisted by a capable cast headed by a wonderfully straight Bruce Dern, dashes of sharp, occasionally raunchy wit and catchy songs sprinkled throughout.
April 7, 2013
Works as either a close relative to "Nashville," or as the father to any of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries. Bruce Dern should've done more comedies, he was excellent here.
February 17, 2013
A terrific Netflix flashback to the 70s. Great seeing so many wonderful character actors showing their chops. Worth seeing a young Melanie Griffith and Annette O'Toole, not to mention Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon.
May 19, 2012
A neglected gem. A little uneven, but fairly inspired and clearly influential.
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2012
Released the same year as Robert Altman's "Nashville," "Smile" takes a similar satirical look at lowbrow American culture. What's most wonderful is that this Michael Ritchie film not only paints a ruthless picture of a vapid "Young American Miss" pageant, steadily refusing to grant the audience any note of reassuring sentimentality, but that its gags are often laugh-out-loud funny (particularly during the talent competition). Not all satires manage to operate on that more visceral level. The cast is full of faces who became much more familiar later -- Melanie Griffith, Annette O'Toole, Dennis Dugan, George Wyner, Colleen Camp -- but Bruce Dern stands out as the dim but well-meaning head judge (a car salesman during the rest of the year) who always tries to put an upbeat spin on life.
December 13, 2011
The sexual themes were about as high as my bordome while watching this.
terris85017
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2011
This is a nostalgic gem--a snapshot of a lifestyle from bygone days. Bruce Dern with that winning car salesman smile captures the joy & naiviete of a generation. Co-stars Barbara Feldman (Get Smart's Agent 99) & a very young Eric Shea (Castaway Cowboy, Po\seidon) are a wonderful supportive cast for this "picture perfect" look at life in white suburbia pre-60's. I don't even think Rock n Roll has hit this little Santa Rosa, Californian town. In its innocence this is a look at if NOT a small town geographically at least in mentality "small town" life filled with sameness, homogeneousness. Excellent actors make this movie a "worth see" in my book! My "book" WILL include at least a chapter or so somehow sharing the amazing "playground" that the Southwest used to be to us Midwestern "transplants."
June 8, 2011
A funny study of superficiality.,
April 24, 2011
Set in mid-seventies Santa Rosa with several Bay Area actors, and young Melanie Griffith and Annette O'Toole.
½ December 31, 2010
Satirical look at American society by using a small town beauty pageant as a metaphor. Forgettable, though not bad per s (C), and mostly notable for the number of young actresses that later went on to achieve fame.
½ November 29, 2010
Humorous, usually subtle, makes this worth watching once. All about the worst aspects of beauty pagents. The contestants come from all over the state of California and range from a Mexican jumping bean to the quiet, shy types.

Most of the action in this witty and sarcastic view of beauty pagents revolves around Bruce Dern in a oddly comedic role, his 10 year old son who's determined to get pictures of undressing contestants and of course the girls themselves. Its all here, the humiliating judging of the girls, the corny acts they perform, the rehersals.

Barbara Feldon (of tv's sixties sitcom Get Smart) is a pagent orginizer who's marriage is on the rocks. Bruce Dern is a used car salesman type that is the lead judge of the girls and quite frankly a good comedic role for him. Dern usually portrays despicable people in all of his films, especially Westerns. So this is refreshing to see him being sublimely funny.

A look at one of America's most beloved institutions - the Young America Miss beauty pageant - in this twisted satire that "deserves a high place among successful film spoofs" ---Variety. The humor gets a little bawdy (sexual) and therefore not suggested viewing with your mother, your grandparents or kids.

The title says it all---- Smile!


Cast
Bruce Dern (judge of the pagent)
Melanie Griffith (a young contestant)
Barbara Feldon (pagent organizer)
Michael Kidd
Annette O'Toole (a young contestant)

Crew
Screenplay: Jerry Belson
Costume Designer: Patricia Harris
Editor: Richard A. Harris
Cinematographer: Conrad L. Hall
Director: Michael Ritchie
½ September 9, 2010
Like a season of' I Love the ??70s' condensed into two hours, and in its intimation that this is a uniquely disposable culture it's decades ahead of VH-1.
½ September 7, 2010
Michael Ritchie's "Smile" is a wry satire about a statewide high school beauty pageant that is frequently hilarious, and at times even insightful. Resisting the trappings of a conventional plot, "Smile" is made up more of a collection of subplots involving the contestants, judges, and administrators of the pageant. All the characters are well defined, if not all completely three dimensional. While Jerry Belson's script is brilliantly funny, it makes no bones about concealing the dark side of the comedy. The film is profoundly cynical about our (America's?) competitive nature, false smiles, and the values we truly hold dear.
August 13, 2010
Chiffon Noir. Cotton candy, made with glass.
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