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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Contemporary playwright, Beth Henley's ("Crimes Of The Heart") "The Miss Firecracker Contest" is brought to life and to the big screen.
The film features an incredible Holly Hunter as the tramp of the town turned wanna-be good girl beauty queen Carnelle Scott. Carnelle was an abandoned little girl who was dropped off at her aunt's house in Yazoo City not more than a year old with ringworm, diaper rash and a bag of dirty rags.
Deeply intense, Tim Robbins as cousin Delmount Williams (recently out of a mental ward) and the beautiful Mary Steenburgen as Elain Rutledge (a forever young beauty queen) grew up with young Carnelle in their household and under their mother's care and Carnelle is more like a sister to them than a cousin.
After Carnelle works on her talent routine for FIVE years and then dyes her hair a bright red, she gets up enough gumption to enter the Yazoo City Miss Firecracker Contest!
Enter Alfre Woodard as Popeye, the local seamstress that learned her trade at the tender age of four - sewing costumes and clothes for the Yazoo City's neighborhood bullfrogs! Carnelle hires Popeye to help her with her costumes for the beauty pageant. All Popeye wants to do is move to Elysian Fields (a funny and touching scene inthe movie) to forget about her troubles and eat ambrosia all the live long day.
A week before the pageant, the carnival shows up in town with all it's pretty lights and fun rides. Scott Glenn as the carnie, Mac Sam has a romantic history with Carnelle and is certainly dying of lung and kidney failure when he shows up in Yazoo City in the year 1988. This year will be his last for a Firecracker Celebration.
It seems Carnelle has a reputation around town and that she slept with any guy that crossed her path just so they would tell her that she was beautiful back in her younger years. EVEN a YOUNG Mr. Richard Fish from Ally McBeal (Greg Germann) makes an appearance as one of Carnelle's old lovers and is a total hick of a peanut throwin', hootin' and hollarin' idiot, by the name of Ronnie Wayne. Ann Wedgewood as emcee, Miss Blue and Amy Wright (Rose Leary from The Accidental Tourist) as hunch-backed beauty contestant Missy Mahoney also have small but great parts!
If only Carnelle wins the Miss Firecracker Contest, she will finally feel the acceptance and satisfaction she has longed for all her life. Is it Carnelle's chance to shine? What happens between Popeye and Delmount? Does Elain leave her husband?
Turn on, tune in and watch to see what happens!
This movie isn't a chick flick by any means. It's really a TRAGECOMEDY with happy, funny, sad, and downright depressing moments that make you think...Hmmmmmm.
Happy Watching!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2004
I love this movie. I don't know why I even ever watched the movie on the first place, I guess just 'cause my mom bought it at a yard sale a few years ago and we had it to watch. Well, it's become one of my favorite movies of all time. The only bad thing is that it's hard for me to see Holly Hunter as anything else but Carnell Scott or Alfre Woodard as anything but Popeye in any other roles. If you like it, the DVD is a must have. I wish it had more features like commentaries by the director/cast. But it's better than nothing.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I've been waiting ages for this to come out on dvd, having worn out my vhs copy ages ago. Touching and hilarious all at once, full of quirky characters and brilliant performances by Holly Hunter, Tim Robbins, Alfre Woodard, Mary Steenburgen, and Scott Glenn. An unknown gem!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is one of those films that I view every now and then when I need a good laugh. Holly Hunter is superb as Carnelle Scott, the wannabe beauty queen. Although we laugh at the characters, Beth Henley's writing is never mean spirited to the characters. It is a virtuoso ensemble cast. There are some real gems in here, the scene where "Popeye" (Alfre Woodward) explains how her eyes started popping out, and Delmont and his former Miss Firecracker sister (Tim Robbins and Mary Steenburgen) tango through the house. The Miss Firecracker talent contest is brilliant...........this film deserves attention.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 1999
Okay this is my FAVORITE movie. Period. Holly Hunter portrays Carnelle as hilarious while still able to draw empathy. Every supporting character is an ensemble of eccentricities, yet are so believable. This movie is the perfect mood picker-upper. 5 stars? Give it 10!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2008
a movie of which I'd never heard, though I considered Holly Hunter hot in "Broadcast News".

Then this was recommended to me. A small movie and a sleeper that is a must see. Steenbergen is excellent [...]. Holly is the orphan-turned-town-pump-turned-determinedly-upwardly-mobile in the big small way offered by a small town.

All are excellent, but it is Alfre Woodard who walks -- ambles? -- away with the film. Hilarious and profoundly serious at the same time. And of a lovely light romantic idealism lighter than the lightened Carnelle in the scene at the end when she finally climbs above the ground.

Sweet and lovely film. You'll love it. If you don't, then you didn't watch it.

Popcorn-suitable, for those who prefer that kind of film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I Love This Movie! I always made me laugh! Holly Hunter, Tim Robbins, and Mary Steenburgen are hilarious as a family. Carnelle (Hunter)is trying to win a beauty contest for the fourth of July like her cousin Elain (Steenburgen). My favorite part is the IR romance between Tim Robbins and Alfre Woodard. It is really good!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 1999
I just watched this movie the other day and i must admit in the beginning i was wondering where my brain had went to. As it progressed it got better and eventually had me engrossed in the life of Carnelle. Alfre Woodard is great. Although i do not care for Mary Steenburgen she was good in this movie. I absolutely love Tim Robbins. He is my favorite actor, so of course i loved his role as the black sheep brother, Delmount. All in all this is a must see and i highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a quality film.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2004
This movie is so funny and at the same time very sad. It takes
place in Yazoo City Mississippi. Every year there is a big fair
and the high point in the Miss Firecracker Contest. Holly Hunter
worships her cousin Elaine played to perfection by Mary Steenburgeen. Elaine was once a winner in the Miss Firecracker
Contest, and Holly Hunter wants to enter. Elaine has come back
to deliver a speech as she has moved on and made a successful
life for herself. Holly Hunter has no confidence and it means
everything to her to win. The movie is full of crazy characters
and really shows southern life. Tim Robbins plays Mary Steenburgeen's brother and Holly Hunter's cousin. He is so
funny in this movie. Holly Hunter is great as the girl trying
so hard to win. Mary Steenburgeen is beautiful as a past winner
but her character is vain and selfish. This movie is so funny
and you will love it. Great acting,story, script, and cast
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2009
This movie has been one of my favorites for years. But then, I like all of Beth Henley's work. It is over the top, funny and outrageous, even ridiculous at times. But there was also real humanity and connections that I found moving. I believe I remember hearing Holly Hunter say that she played the character much as she did when performing it on Broadway; and when she saw the film, she found her performance grotesque. I don't agree. She's extreme and a bit over the top, but I thought her performance was charming and appropriately desperate at times. And I could watch it again and again. Actually, I have.
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