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Mmmm, movies! “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Devil Wears Prada”

Two movies came out on DVD recently — “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Devil Wears Prada” — that are super About-Facey (that is, they take on issues of women’s and girls’ body image and media influences), so around the kitchen table the other night, we decided to make up a special rating system. Check it out — and let us know what you thought of these flicks.

Little Miss Sunshine (R, but should be PG-13)
The good: “This is for my grandpa, who taught me these moves.” Olive’s performance in the beauty pageant and more in that scene I can’t reveal here lest I spoil the fun. (Oh, and Alyza thinks Paul Dano is lovable.) Olive (Abigail Breslin) is the little girl we all remember ourselves being.

The sad: Whoa, the beauty pageant scene with the little freaky girls! Scary! (And the directors’ commentary reveals that they are for real.) And when Olive’s dad breaks it to her over breakfast that ice cream is going to make her fat. Heartbreaking. Luckily Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), Grandpa, and Dwayne, show her they love ice cream, even if it does make you fat.


Up in the air: Grandpa’s misogyny.

Reckoning: A funny, sweet comedy. Do four Oscar nominations (including one for Best Picture) lie? Also great to watch with your mom.

RATING: 5 out of 5 About-Faces


The Devil Wears Prada (PG-13)
The good: Meryl Streep being perfectly evil. Was she just having fun, or was that just me? (Oh, and she’s up for a Best Actress Oscar too…)

The sad: Emily (Emily Blunt) says to Andy (Anne Hathaway) “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight” as they enter a gala. Andy tells Nigel she is now a size 4 (down from 6) and they toast with Champagne. C’mon people, seriously.

picture-5.pngUp in the air: Doesn’t really take on the insane thin ideal fashion-y people and models feel they must conform to at all times. But at least it kind of makes fun of those ideals. It also makes it seem that Andy can have either a high-powered career or a boyfriend, not both. (The older women we know dispel that myth handily.)

Reckoning: Eh. We’re not so thrilled from a hard-core chick perspective. But it’s pretty entertaining, especially if you REALLY like fashion. Or you’re contemplating the work/life balance. Or both.

RATING: 2 out of 5 About-Faces


Some other About-Face-approved movies:
Lovely and Amazing: Serious body-image talk, with a mom having liposuction, an actress being self-loathing, and a little fat girl trying to make sense of it all.

Drop Dead Gorgeous: If you’re into black comedy, this movie represents some of the blackest. Its take on beauty standards is nothing short of skewering.

If you’ve see any of these movies, tell us what you thought! Just click “Add Comment” below!

— J.B.

4 thoughts on “Mmmm, movies! “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Devil Wears Prada”

  1. I am surprised to even see an add for this movie on your website. Although, yes, at the beginning Andy felt comfortable with her wait and they were promoting the image of a healthy looking girl, it really bothered me when she brought up that she had been dieting and finally gotten down to her size 4. That scene left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t feel this movie deserves one star! But…you are right on with Little Miss Sunshine!

  2. Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of the most… twisted, horrible, unkind…and BEST movies ever! This is one of those movies where you and your friends just have to say one or two words and … you all disolve into laughter. I live in the Rural Midwest, and I still can’t drive past the John Deer dealership without disolving into sniggering at the tractors.

  3. Sorry, but I’d have to give the Devil wears Prada a negative rating. I think it is harmful to watch in terms of body image.

    We watched it the other day partly to see if we agreed with your comments. I think it is like one of those magazines that say they will make you feel better about yourself, but depend on making you feel rubbish so you buy the next issue.

    Messages included that as a woman you can’t be successful and have an exciting job without giving up love and family. Also there was the message that ‘good’ women shoudn’t compete with one another (her taking the place of her ‘friend’ in Paris was akin to worshiping the devil).

    And it was another of those transformation movies – where the ugly woman turns out to be beautiful once she’s wearing stiletto heels (which she still had on at the end).

    If you make a movie that has to use unhelpful stereotypes & conventions to get across a message that is potentially helpful – unfortunately the unhelpful stereotypes win the day.

    I recommend NOT watching this. I really like your idea of rating films in this way – but don’t be afraid to have really high standards. 3 ‘stars’ should mean the film is reasonably helpful, 0 should mean neutral. 5 should be the best we can possibly imagine.

  4. I am also disappointed to see you praise this movie in any way. While sitting through it for research on an essay I was doing on body image I felt the hairs stand on the back of my neck during numerous scenes. Movies generated by Hollywood over the years have not changed their message.(Despite the overwhelming evidence that they and the fashion industry are having an overwhelmingly negative effect on female self esteem with their warped sense of beauty.).

    This issue has, in fact, only gotten worse. In this movie the character, Andy, is a young and inexperienced woman who lands a job as a high fashion magazine editor’s assistant. (Yes, good for you, Andy. Having career ambitions and excelling in a career is great.) However, throughout the dialogue she is constantly criticized for being a size six. Towards the end of the movie she is finally toasted for losing enough weight to fit into a size four. And, what a surprise, the announcement is made at the moment in the movie where she finally achieves career success.

    I am so tired of the message, via movies, that opportunity, success, and happiness only come to a package that displays a tiny waistline and zero thigh! That package being an imperially “perfect” woman of the Hollywood cloth.

    Hollywood is not, REAL. It markets the superficial. I want them to stop feeding us their toxic perspective on beauty. Until we and they stop making movies like this “Oscar worthy” this toxic perspective will never end.
    -Joanne Wilde

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