Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1989. Corsair Pictures, Firecracker Company, Guadalupe Productions. Screenplay by Beth Henley, based on her play The Miss Firecracker Contest. Cinematography by Arthur Albert. Produced by Fred Berner. Music by David Mansfield. Production Design by Kristi Zea. Costume Design by Molly Maginnis. Film Editing by Peter C. Frank.
Holly Hunter makes you care deeply about her success in a local beauty pageant when watching this adaptation of Beth Henley’s play, even if you’re someone for whom it does not rate high among human pursuits. Hunter plays a bored spinster who decides to enter the beauty contest that her cousin (Mary Steenburgen) won a few years earlier; hoping not to let her get her hopes up, the people closest to her try to dissuade her from trying, but it only spurs her on further. As in Henley’s Crimes Of The Heart, this charmer features a plucky heroine surrounded by an assortment of oddball characters, none more enjoyable than Tim Robbins as her off-balance cousin and Alfre Woodard as a rather sheltered friend.