U.S., 1999, 97 min, Digital, Dir: Michael Patrick Jann, Rated PG-13, Warner Bros
“Clever, fearless and loaded with wicked lines and touches.” — Los Angeles Times
“Funny and sharply satiric!” — Jeff Millar, Houston Chronicle
This screening includes an introduction by Flaming Classics and a live drag performance by Yoko Oso before the feature.
The Sarah Rose American Teen Princess Pageant is a beauty contest to die for! And that's exactly what the contestants in Mount Rose, Minnesota, are doing. Ever since the vivacious-but-vicious former beauty queen Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley) started pushing her charm-challenged daughter, Rebecca (Denise Richards), to win at all costs, the competition has been dropping like flies. Between exploding tractors and deadly hunting accidents, it's a wonder the top challenger, poor Amber (Kirsten Dunst), has the courage to keep her tap shoes on. But after Amber's mother (Ellen Barkin) is injured in a suspicious trailer-park-beauty-shop bombing, Amber is determined to fight to the finish - and the battle between the good and the bad is about to get ugly! Experience plenty of mom, apple pie and all-American mayhem in this breakthrough cult classic.
Warning: this is a mean film. Is it triggering? Maybe. Is it cancelable? Maybe.
Despite, or because of this, Drop Dead Gorgeous has become even more beloved twenty years out from its debut thanks to its cast of misanthropic outsiders. It is a brutal, trashy satire of teen beauty pageants and America itself; a dissection of the diseased American dream. In addition to its pitch black sense of humor, the film comments on class, morality, and deadly ambition. During the American Teen Princess Pageant, the small town of Mount Rose, Minnesota is turned into a Shakespearean power struggle.
This searing mockumentary is anchored by an unforgettable female cast. Powered by an all-star young cast including Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, and Brittany Murphy—as well as the screen debut of future six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams and anchored by veterans like Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin—and a wonderful Allison Janney, Drop Dead Gorgeous feels like a 1990s update of The Women. With camp, bitter commentary, and a disregard for propriety, Drop Dead Gorgeous stood out from all teen comedies of the time and remains one of the darkest and most hilarious entries in the genre.
- Trae DeLellis
This July at After Hours, Flaming Classics invites you to dive into the aesthetics of camp with a program of favorite films inspired by a nostalgia for the 1990s.
A note from Brenda Moe
In Exhibition With is my series where I invite a friend to build a film program for our audience. If you know the Miami cinema scene, you know Flaming Classics, the curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances. Flaming Classics is masterfully led by Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis, both crucial voices in film and cinema. Reading their works is a masterclass in film history and cinema appreciation. Although familiar with Flaming Classics for years, I first met Juan in mid-2021 and immediately wanted to find ways to work together. I conceived of this program in part to make that happen. As the former creative director at Bill Cosford Cinema, Trae has been on my professional radar, which makes this program exciting and meaningful. I'm thrilled to welcome you to Summer Camp Redux!
A note from Flaming Classics
Upon being invited to take part in Coral Gables Art Cinema’s new In Exhibition With series, we couldn’t help but think back on our first program, Summer Camp, and the colorful collection of films we showcased with it. As such, we wanted to revisit this series through Summer Camp Redux: an expansion of our past series that dives into the aesthetics of camp (and the malleability of how we define it), this time particularly inspired by a nostalgia for the 1990s. These are favorite films discovered during our adolescence, consumed endlessly on VHS until the tapes wore out, now being screened for old audiences to revisit and new audiences to discover.
One of the driving forces of Flaming Classics was to create unique event screenings, prompted by our discovery that we had only ever watched many of our favorite films alone or in small groups, rather than the pleasure of experiencing them with a collective audience. We wanted to challenge the casual convenience and consumption of “content” offered by the streaming revolution, foregrounding the theatrical experience, seeing the excess of these camp classics on the big screen with surround sound, and getting to laugh and scream with everyone alongside us.
In addition to sharing these films as a community, we are pleased to give them a Flaming Classics spin. Each feature will be accompanied with an introduction foregrounding the film, its production, legacy, and queer elements, along with a commissioned essay by celebrated queer critics. And, as is our tradition, we will be inviting local performers to celebrate and recontextualize each film through their unique prism of drag before each feature.
The selected films all represent varying takes on camp during the 1990s. Some were instant hits while others were flops that have taken decades to become cult classics, but today, they are and will forever remain timeless treasures that have, in a very weird way, defined a generation. Join us, won’t you?
Click above to read program notes.