Plot: What’s it about?
Mona (Minnie Driver) has always wanted to be Miss American Miss, but it seems as though problems always remain in her path. In her youth, she worked as a delivery girl to raise money for entrance fees and such, but not matter how many pageants she watched, she always ended up as a runner up. But her friend Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams) has helped her a lot and thanks to her sewing skills & supportive nature, Mona kept pushing ahead. Soon enough, Mona began to win some awards and even though she didn’t always blend well the other contestants, she was pleased to be winning and moving toward the Miss American Miss crown. But when she becomes pregnant and faces the rules that disallow that, Mona is left with little options as to what she needs to do. Down the line a bit, Mona wins the title of Miss Illinois and is on the road to Miss American Miss, with Ruby and her young daughter Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) at her side. But when she finds herself all alone in the world, she is forced to realize that sometimes, beauty and tiaras don’t replace everything.
After I saw this flick’s theatrical trailer, I expected to hate the movie, but when this disc arrived, I went ahead and gave it a spin. I do like Minnie Driver a lot, but the presence of Hallie Kate Eisenberg (the Pepsi girl) and the sugar coated storyline seemed to doom this one. I’ve now seen the film and while it was predictable and overly emotional at times, it was much better than I expected. Minnie Driver is superb here and gives a wonderful turn, while Hallie Kate Eisenberg is nowhere near as bothersome as I had thought. She might be a little harsh on the nerves at times, but she does have potential and she works well here. This film has a light tone to it most of the time, but also hits some darker spots and those moments are memorable, at least I think so. Some cheese laden emotion is present, but for all those instances, there’s a couple warm or humorous moments to even things out. So in the end, this is a predictable and flawed motion picture, but an enjoyable one and a release I give a solid recommendation to. I do think the ending is the weakest link here, but the journey to get there is a good one, so a rental will be the best choice here.
Although her character isn’t always lovable, Minnie Driver is simply wonderful in her performance here. I imagine it was tough to play such a harsh character, but also ensure some warmth soaks through at times. But even so, Driver is natural within this role and pulls it off very well, with only a couple instances that don’t pan out. I think she seems most believable in the more likable scenes, but even as a real meanie, it’s easy to see charms surface. Other films with Driver include Hard Rain, Good Will Hunting, An Ideal Husband, Return To Me, Circle of Friends, and Grosse Pointe Blank. The rest of the cast includes Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show), Hallie Kate Eisenberg (Paulie, The Insider), Colleen Rennison (Carpool, The Story of Us), Kathleen Robertson (Tv’s Beverly Hills 90210), Kathleen Turner (The Virgin Suicides, House of Cards), Bridgette Wilson (Love Stinks, Mortal Kombat), and Joey Lauren Adams (Big Daddy, Chasing Amy).
Video: How does it look?
Beautiful is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. As usual, when Columbia/Tristar puts forth the effort, they can deliver a terrific visual presentation. I found this transfer to be on the dark side at times, but aside from that, this is a superb looking image at all times. The colors look bold, flesh tones are natural, and except for a few scenes, the contrast is level and well defined. Some small problems pull the score down a shade, but this should please fans of the flick.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but since this is a dialogue driven picture, the surrounds won’t pulse off the walls, by any means. Some surround use is evident with the musical soundtrack, but aside from that, this mix is handled by the front channels and handled well at that. A couple instances of impact sound effects do surface, but most are simple background noise and don’t cause much dynamic presence. The main focus here is the dialogue, which sounds excellent at all times and never falters in the least. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files and the film’s theatrical trailer.