Willowdean nicknamed Dumplin’ by her former beauty queen mother is a plus-sized teenager and she signs up for the Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant in protest which sees other girls also sign up. How will this change everything in the small Texas town?
Willowdean was pretty much raised by her Aunt Lucy who we find out passed away six months earlier. She did everything with her and has her to thank for introducing her to Dolly Parton and her inspiring music. As well as meeting her best friend Ellen, they share the love for Dolly Parton and this leads to plenty of singing scenes mainly in the car, who doesn’t love to sing when driving?
Willowdean does not feel love from her mother Rosie who is still obsessed with her beauty queen past. She feels that her mother does not love her because of her size and wishes she was not actually her daughter. After an argument she then decides to take part in the beauty pageant but it doesn’t work out in the manner she actually expected.
During the process of taking part Willowdean and Ellen have troubles but she had also inspired Millie and Hannah to also take part. These girls never really feeling like they fit in and would never had the courage to sign up if it was not for Willowdean taking that first step and stand against the system.
I have to admit that I was very surprised with this film and the emotional journey it takes us on at times. Trying to figure out how to deal with grief is at the core of the film and when we find out exactly why she is taking part it is actually full circle and such a lovely reason in all honesty. Didn’t actually see that part coming.
Throw in some Dolly Parton drag queen’s and those are certainly entertaining moments. I do love Dolly Parton’s music and therefore having it throughout the film really is a nice bonus. Especially when those drag queens actually help Willowdean, Millie and Hannah. Showing that you really can find help in the unexpected places.
Rosie does not come across as a nice character the way she treats her daughter and not really seeming too bothered about the death of her sister. But she does get a very good redemption and comes back from everything in good fashion which really does help the relationship between mother and daughter making the plot thicker than it may first seem. Along with Bo the love interest that Willowdean cannot accept because she doesn’t know why he would fancy her due to her size.
I thought Danielle Macdonald was impressive in the leading role, after seeing her in Patti Cake$ last year, although it would appear she will be typecast as plus size and might end up trapped in a very similar role with each film or tv series. Very impressive leading performance in this film though, something I was not really sure whether to expect or not from this film.
Netflix keep releasing a lot of original films and I personally think this is the best one they have released in quite a long time now!