It’s What’s On the Inside that Counts
Starring: Minnie Driver, Joey Lauren
Adams, Hallie Kate Eisenberg,
Kathleen Turner, & Bridgette
Audience: Older children & adults
Runtime: 112 minutes
Distributor: Destination Films
Director: Sally Field
Executive Producer: Brent Baum, Kate Driver, Marty
Fink, David Forrest, Wendy
Japhet, Barry London, Beau
Rogers, Steven Stabler, &
Producer: John Bertolli & B.J. Rack
Writer: Jon Bernstein
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Viewers first see Mona Hibbard as a young girl, paying for her own braces. She lives with her mother, who is constantly complaining that Mona gives her a headache, and her mother’s boyfriend, who sometimes tries to sneak into Mona’s bedroom at night, only to be stopped with her whistle-blowing (literally) defense tactics. Mona, despite her living conditions, is a strong-willed girl stubbornly set in her goal to be a beauty queen. Her room, decorated with magazine photos and self-encouragement cards (“you can do it,” “don’t ever give up!”), are testimony to her pursuit of her dream.
Mona earns money delivering groceries to pay for her pageants. When faced with the problem of not being able to purchase costumes for the events, she sees a small, quiet girl in her home economics class that can sew amazingly well. Mona sticks up for the girl during lunch one day and finds out the girl’s name is Ruby. The pair strike up a friendship and help each other out whenever they can.
Years later, a grown up Mona (Driver) still watches and enters the beauty pageants with just as much, if not more, fervor. Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams of BIG DADDY), a nurse at a convalescent home, is as supportive as ever, especially when Mona seeks revenge on her fellow pageant contestants. Ruby constantly consoles Mona and pushes her when Mona seems ready to give up her dream. Her friendship is especially vital when Mona informs Ruby that she is pregnant, a disqualification for anyone competing in the “Miss” pageants.
More time passes, and Mona wins the state pageant. Ruby is now mother to Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg of PEPSI commercial fame), a young girl who looks suspiciously like Mona. Vanessa loves playing soccer and is more annoyed with Mona than anything. In fact, she has grown to see Mona as a selfish person who always forgets to take her to her soccer games. For Mona, the feeling is likewise, but when Ruby is incarcerated for something she didn’t do, Mona must compete for the national title without her support, not to mention keeping an eye on Vanessa. Forced to be together, Mona and Vanessa learn not only the necessity to help each other, but that they need each other.
Although BEAUTIFUL is a balanced mixture of comedy and drama, there are some questionable elements that mar its story. The main character, Mona, gets pregnant out of wedlock and then lies about it in order to compete in beauty pageants. She also uses foul language in front of a child, which is reflected when the child “fills in” a word for her. Mona gives her a somewhat sarcastic rebuke, saying, “I am the only one that can say that s**t.” Therefore, due to this content and other questionable elements, BEAUTIFUL may be unsuitable for children.
Although BEAUTIFUL is a balanced mixture of comedy and drama, there are some questionable elements that mar its story. The main character, Mona, gets pregnant out of wedlock and then lies about it in order to compete in beauty pageants. She also uses foul language, including some in front of a child, which is later reflected when the child “fills in” a word for her. Mona gives her a somewhat sarcastic rebuke, which ends with another sample of foul language. Besides the language, there is one brief scene of partial nudity in a dressing room, although it is not depicted in a sexual context. However, due to this content and other questionable elements, BEAUTIFUL may be unsuitable for children