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.
5 hat-and-cane numbers out of 5
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!
Bruce Dern (judge of the pagent)
Melanie Griffith (a young contestant)
Barbara Feldon (pagent organizer)
Annette O'Toole (a young contestant)
Screenplay: Jerry Belson
Costume Designer: Patricia Harris
Editor: Richard A. Harris
Cinematographer: Conrad L. Hall
Director: Michael Ritchie