Watch Smile

"This beauty pageant's about to get ugly."
  • PG
  • 1975
  • 1 hr 57 min
  • 7.1  (2,562)
  • 79

Smile is a 1975 comedy-drama film directed by Michael Ritchie, starring Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon, and Michael Kidd. Set in the fictional California town of Santa Rosa, the film tells the story of the annual Young American Miss beauty pageant, and the behind-the-scenes drama and humor that ensues during its preparation and execution.

The film opens with the introduction of the Young American Miss pageant, a wholesome competition aimed at finding the perfect teenage girl, based on qualities like charm, poise, and talent. The film follows the contestants, each with their own unique backstory and personalities, as they rehearse and compete for the title.

Bruce Dern plays Big Bob Freelander, a sleazy car dealer and the pageant's chief sponsor. He sees the competition as a way to promote his business, and repeatedly tries to influence the judges to crown a winner to his liking. On the other hand, Michael Kidd plays Tommy French, one of the pageant judges who is struggling with his own personal issues.

Barbara Feldon plays Brenda DiCarlo, the pageant's choreographer, who is in charge of training the contestants for the talent competition. Despite her experience and expertise, Brenda faces multiple challenges, including pushback from Big Bob and the girls' lack of enthusiasm for their assigned talents.

As the competition progresses, the girls face a range of obstacles and opportunities, including romance, sabotage, and conflict with their parents. Meanwhile, the pageant staff must navigate their own personal and professional issues, ranging from marital problems to financial strain.

One of the film's highlights is the talent competition, where each girl showcases their unique skills, ranging from singing and dancing to baton twirling and yodeling. The performances are creative and entertaining, highlighting the different personalities and talents of the contestants. Additionally, the film utilizes mock commercials, advertising the various products and services of the pageant sponsors, which adds to its satirical tone.

Throughout the film, Richie uses a documentary-style approach, utilizing long takes and a naturalistic visual style. This approach enhances the film's realism and the audience's feeling of being immersed in the world of the pageant.

Smile is ultimately a witty and sardonic commentary on American beauty pageants, and the societal values and ideals they represent. It is a clever exploration of the absurdity and superficiality of the competition, juxtaposed with the genuine ambitions and emotions of the contestants. The film is often hilarious, but also has moments of tenderness and pathos, making for an entertaining and thought-provoking viewing experience.

Overall, Smile is a standout film from the 1970s, and an excellent example of Michael Ritchie's satirical and subversive style as a filmmaker. It is a unique and entertaining film that still resonates with audiences today.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 57 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (2,562)
  • Metascore