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Review: ‘Dumplin’ breaks the mold

Netflix original film creates refreshing atmosphere, plot

Courtesy+of+Netflix.
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Review: ‘Dumplin’ breaks the mold

Courtesy of Netflix.

Courtesy of Netflix.

Courtesy of Netflix.

Courtesy of Netflix.

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Based on the young-adult novel written in 2015 by Julie Murphy, “Dumplin’” was transformed into a Netflix-original movie and released on Friday, Dec. 7. The film tells the coming-of-age story of a young, overweight girl named Willowdean (played by Danielle Macdonald) whose mother is a former beauty queen. Willowdean was raised by her aunt Lucy (played by Hilliary Begley) because her mother (played by Jennifer Aniston) was preoccupied with work and planning the annual city-wide pageant.

One of the main factors that made “Dumplin’” so unique was its southern atmosphere. The story is set in Texas, so the country music-filled soundtrack and characters with thick southern accents contributed to the setting nicely. The acting also contributed to the immersive atmosphere of the movie. Willowdean’s quick-witted, sassy conversations with her best friend, Ellie (played by Odeya Rush), utilize various typical southern sayings like “bless your heart.” Once the movie starts to play, viewers will become entranced by the charming characters and southern dialect.

The emotional plot from Murphy’s original novel was portrayed amazingly by director Anne Fletcher. The sets within Willowdean’s house gave a sentimental vibe and made the viewer feel attached to the plot before it even began. The tension between Willowdean and her mother was developed intensely throughout the film; by the time their conflict reaches its climax, the audience is deeply invested and truly cares for both characters.

Although “Dumplin’” is intended for teenage viewers, it defies typical expectations for a young-adult movie. The film breaks cultural barriers and taboos by openly discussing fat shaming in modern society. Willowdean is surrounded by rude individuals who tease her about her weight, but she doesn’t allow the bullies to affect her. Instead, she decides to join the annual pageant her mom runs to protest fat shaming in her community. No one in her life saw this coming because people would normally think a victim of bullying would shy away from the public eye, but Willowdean decided to take a stand against her bullies.

Willowdean is a highly self-assured character who refuses to take no for an answer. When her mother tries to convince her to not sign up for the pageant, she insists upon trying out anyway. When obnoxious boys pick on her for being overweight, she stands up for herself. Having such a strong-willed female lead in a film helps inspire confidence in the audience. Younger viewers of “Dumplin’” will surely wish to take a page from Willowdean’s book and stand up for themselves.

The phenomenal portrayal of the storyline and atmosphere of “Dumplin’” makes it a top contender for future award nominations. “Dumplin’” deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars. Half of a star was deducted for the relatively simple theme, but the fact that the plot broke many stereotypes of teen movies makes up for the simplicity of it.

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Review: ‘Dumplin’ breaks the mold