Network: ABC, Hallmark Channel
TV Rating: NR
Other Choices: Wag the Dog, First Daughter, Syriana, Election
Common Sense Says: Soapy Pygmalion story is benign, with a bit of romance
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Makeover is a made-for-TV romance and is mostly inoffensive, with no cursing, nudity, or violence. There are some sexist (if realistic) messages, as Stiles is criticized for her looks and demeanor as a female candidate for Congress. Many of the characters in the movie with strong Boston accents also presented as simple or even criminal. There are some references to drinking: One character asks for Irish coffee just before she shakes down a campaign; one of the main characters is a beer vendor and we see empty bottles being collected from a party.
- This story is a play on a classic tale known as Pygmalion. Have you seen other Pygmalion takeoffs, such as My Fair Lady or She's All That? How does The Makeover compare with these other adaptations?
- Do you think that the political landscape as shown in The Makeover is realistic? Can a candidate come from nowhere like in the movie and run for federal office? Why is there so little reference to the cost of running a political campaign in this movie?
- Are we supposed to like the characters in The Makeover? What about the way they are presented leads you to this conclusion? How are they dressed? What music plays while we see them? How do they look and act?
What's the story?
After a failed run for the House of Representatives, a dejected Hannah Higgins (Julia Stiles) turns back to her educational consulting company. That is, until one day beer vendor Elliot Doolittle (David Walter) wanders into her office, hoping she can help him improve his diction, soften his "wicked" Boston accent, and clean him up so he can get a better job. Higgins makes a bet with her BFF and campaign manager Colleen (Camryn Manheim) that not only can she polish Doolittle's rough ways, she can take him all the way into the political position she failed to win. But it's not all politics between Elliot and Hannah: romantic sparks soon fly between these mismatched colleagues.
Is it any good?
Goofy, soapy and yet pleasant, The Makeover coasts on the multitudinous charms of its cast, chiefly the charming interplay between a relaxed Manheim, a upright-and-uptight Stiles, and louche beer vendor Walton, who unfortunately boasts the most horrible BAAAAAHSTAN accent ever. It's worse than Norm from Cheers. Walton's Doolittle calls himself a "beeeeh vendah" and it gets worse from there. "Wicked," "chowderheads," and pahking the cah in the yahd all make appearances.If viewers can ignore that (and most non-Bostonians will be able to), this movie is a fine, if predictable way to while away a few hours. Stiles and Walter are cute together, the classic Pygmalion story is given a pleasingly postmodern gender switch, and the story ticks along easily enough, not consuming too much brain power to digest. If you like this kind of thing -- this thing being "Hallmark Channel romances" -- you'll like this particular thing.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Characters value education most highly, and are using politics to implement deeply held convictions and principles. Some sexist messages about women in politics.
Educational Value: Young viewers may learn a little bit about the political process, although the movie is far from realistic about what it takes to mount a candidate for Congress.
Role Models: The majority of the main characters are principled and caring; some characters are presented as uneducated and doltish. The cast lacks racial and ethnic diversity.
What to watch out for
Violence Not an issue
Sex: Some flirting and kissing; one reference to two characters not "getting with" each other.
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Some social drinking at parties; the main character is a beer vendor and another character asks frequently for beer and Irish coffee.