|Index||3 reviews in total|
Jean Smart (Designing Women, The Brady Bunch Movie) stars with Robert Wagner (Austin Powers 1 & 2 , What Price Glory, Crazy in Alabama) in this professionally made satire of beauty pageants.
Smart is former and aging Miss Texas Gal 1968 who was also a formerly successful pageant manager until a notorious scandal caused her to flee Texas for Mississippi. Her beauty queen daughter is graduating from beautician college and dreams of going to Hollywood to be a makeup artist to the stars. Smart receives an offer to coach a beauty pageant in Paris, Texas and her boyfriend Lyle (Wagner) persuades her to go. They head out in a motor home only to have Lyle choke to death on an artificial eyelash. Undaunted and unwilling to chance a delay, they keep Lyle with them in the motor home and disguise him with makeup, wigs and a dress.
The film makers present a twisted world of beauty pageants with the book Valley of the Dolls as their bible, an addiction to the cola drink Tab and the surprise ending of the beauty pageant in Texas being for drag queens.
Hilarious satire coupled with an outstanding performance by Smart produce a likeable film that also explores the shallowness of the pageant scene and its impact on its participants. After the film, the director explained that the script was based on his idea of what would have happened if Jon Bennet Ramsey had lived. This produced quite a few groans from the audience. This was by far the best film I screened and has the greatest potential for general theatrical release.
Grade = A-
It's my understanding that the production of this film was nightmarish for
lot of reasons that I won't bother to go into. Unlike many other films
those types of problems, it certainly doesn't show on screen here. Jean
Smart and Jennifer Elise Cox (who costarred together in the first "Brady
Bunch" movie) play off each other well. Smart, the domineering
Jacquelyn-Suzanne-obsessed mother, feels as if she could really be the
mother of ditzy sequin-loving Cox. In fact, everyone in this film seem to
click together as if they've known each other their whole lives, which make
the slow-moving film far more interesting.
While I like all the performances, I have to brag about Jean Smart. It seems like she was born to play this character -- a culmination of nearly every character she's ever played -- she has Charlene Frasier's accent (from "Designing Women"), Chelsea Steven's obsessiveness (from "Style and Substance"), Ellie Walker's flamboyance (from "High Society"), and Aileen Wurnos's rage (from "Overkill"). When the film begins, it seems Smart's second banana to Cox, but as the film progresses, Smart blossoms and takes center stage.
The version that I saw (though it's probably been re-edited since then) was a bit uneven. While totally enjoyable, I left the film feeling like there was something missing -- though that probably stems from the behind-the-scenes problems. Smart is supposed to have this big mystery surrounding her departure from Texas, but once we learn why she left Texas, it feels like there should have been more to it. There were a few other scenes that felt incomplete, like either a scene was cut (or never shot), but that's a small gripe about a fabulous film that I would love to watch over and over again -- if it ever gets released on video or TV. And hopefully it will one of these years. . . reportedly Lifetime Movie Network is supposed to air it soon (if only they'd play it on a network that's actually on my cable system).
Loreli Daly is an aging beauty queen who can't let go of the past...
which still haunts her. Her daughter Corinne is now grown (and a beauty
queen herself), and the pair embark on a road trip back to Texas --
with Tiffany and Liz, Corinne's childhood friends, and Loreli's
boyfriend Lyle in tow -- so Loreli can oversee another beauty pageant.
Not surprisingly, the road back to Texas is a bumpy one...
Several slightly different cuts of "Forever Fabulous" have been circulating deep underground for many years, and it's not hard to understand why -- this little black comedy has got cult movie written ALL over it. With its intentionally campy narration, dialogue and performances, endearingly tacky characters, quotable one-liners, candy colored production design, numerous references and homages to old Hollywood, and a cameo from b-movie legend Mink Stole, the movie's entertaining, lovable and has a high re-watchability factor. The film has its share of flaws too (most notably, a shift in tone as Loreli's un-shocking darkest secret is revealed), but the pros far outweigh the cons, and the performances from the entire cast are stellar.
Unfortunately, outside of the underground and a brief stint on the film festival circuit, it's barely been seen. The airplay rights for the movie were sold to LMN in 2001 (sadly, they cropped the picture for TV), but it seems the network barely aired it before locking it away in the vaults. Many years have passed, and still the film remains utterly obscure. I'd love to see it on DVD with commentaries and deleted/alternate scenes (the version originally screened at the Austin Film Festival ran nearly 20 minutes longer than the versions in circulation), but it doesn't look like that's EVER gonna happen. At the very least, it would be great if they'd resurrect the film for airings on Logo -- at least on that network, it might reach an audience who'll appreciate the film as the wickedly campy trashterpiece that it is.
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