So each month, the Large Association of Movie Blogs does a poll to select a “Movie of the Month” for members to take a look at. For the month of July, there are two movies in the polling currently that I wanted to write about. They include “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and “Chronicle.”
For reference, here are the films in the July poll:
First movie I’m taking a look at is “DROP DEAD GORGEOUS” (1999)
First of all, it’s impressive when you look back at this cast:
- Kirsten Dunst, Golden Globe nominee.
- Ellen Barkin, Emmy winner.
- Allison Janney, Oscar winner.
- Kirstie Alley, Golden Globe and Emmy winner.
- Amy Adams, Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner.
“Drop Dead Gorgeous” is really powered by its cast and script here. The lines are hilarious and while some of it’s exaggerated, I can report some Minnesotans have accents that thick.
The petty small-town politics, personal rivalries and town caricatures are all played up for humor in the writing here and they all manage to produce laughs. It’s over-the-top, yet at the same time it never appears to go for low hanging fruit with dumbed-down comedy.
The delivery by the cast, meanwhile, is out of this world. Alley is brilliant as the raging, stop-at-nothing mother who hides behind a smiling, suburban mask. Her faux kindness and win at all cost attitude is fantastic.
It’s the same with Janney, who steals every single scene she’s featured in. Her character is very street-smart and Janney sells this aspect so well. Every time the character is giving advice or letting someone know what she thinks, Janney delivers it with so much confidence that it’s convincing and comical.
The cast is well rounded with Dunst doing solid work as an earnest, good-hearted contestant who really sells the “Minnesota Nice” attitude, while the late Brittany Murphy knocks it out of the park as the hyper-active Lisa.
The movie also goes with an interesting take by telling the story as a mockumentary, rather than a more straightforward approach. This not only gives the flick a unique touch, it also results in some great interview segments.
Next I’m looking back at “CHRONICLE” (2012)
The approach of making films in the style of a home movie or found footage really took off in the mid-2000s with most of it being horror, following the success of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. This wasn’t limited to horror, though, as attempts were made to branch out into other genres, such as the 2012 comedy “Project X” and the 2014 disaster survival flick “Into the Storm.”
Likely the best attempt I saw during this era, though, was “Chronicle.” Despite being shot to look like a found footage feature, the movie was much more interested in bringing a superhero origin story to life in very relatable ways with strong characters.
The found footage is used how it should be, not as a gimmick or a marketing ploy, but simply a different style to tell a story. The focus here is all about deconstructing a classic hero origin story by following three different types of high schoolers.
Watching as they get their powers, become friends, and how that much power in real life would be hard to manage at that age is all featured in a fantastic story, building to a solid climax.
It’s a great benefit that the lead performers Dane DeHaan, Alex Russel and Michael B. Jordan, all do great work portraying these characters, giving them a lot of personality and sharing plenty of chemistry. They make the drama here, especially in the third act, rather convincing.
If you’re a fan of the superhero genre, or want to see a young adult drama told in a different fashion, check this one out.