I Liked You Better Before: Movie Makeovers That Never Should Have Happened

It’s a universally accepted fact that any movie featuring a makeover montage is automatically amazing. Everybody loves a good before-and-after comparison, and with movie magic, wondrous changes can occur. Girls with braces, glasses and frizzy buns on top of their heads can in a matter of minutes be transformed into girls with perfect smiles, colored contacts and glossy manes a la Kyle Richards, all set to the bubbly beat of whatever pop song is most likely to get stuck in your head at the moment.

But what about makeovers where it’s not totally clear that the After is better than the Before? Am I the only one who’s had an awkward moment when somebody who usually wears glasses removes their glasses and suddenly they’re hideous but there’s no polite way of telling them, “You look better with your face partially obscured”? You guys, this even happens in the magical world of movies. A few examples:

Fern Mayo

For those of you who don’t remember, Jawbreaker is a 1999 dark comedy Heathers rip-off about an evil clique of high school girls who accidentally murder their leader. In order to silence the only witness – lonely, “hideous” Fern Mayo – they give her a makeover, rename her Vylette, and induct her into their group. But let’s be real here – Vylette is completely trashtastic and gross. Her platinum Kate Gosselin hairdo is ‘do-ing nothing for her and I find it really hard to believe that anybody at that school would have found her beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, Judy Greer is totally pretty no matter what, but I way preferred her nerdy-chic aesthetic and hipster bangs.

Cady Heron

This Mean Girls makeover is particularly poignant since it theoretically mirrors the tragic demise of Lindsay Lohan herself from adorable freckle-cheeked apple blossom teen pin-up to… less than that, if you know what I mean. And I know that the whole point of the movie is that Cady was better before she fell in with the Plastics, but did they have to give her such tacky outfits and Rave hairspray hair? Especially when her “before” was so freakin’ cute with the plaid shirts and her little fresh face which by the way we will literally never see again.

Chase Hammond

Oh yes, boys get makeovers, too. And since you’ve all been paying attention long enough to know that the existence of the film Drive Me Crazy is one of the only reasons I get up in the morning, it’s only natural that I give a nod to Adrian Grenier in his most globally significant role to date. He starts the movie as a slacker hottie and with the help of literal-girl-next-door Melissa Joan Hart, revamps his entire look to become a prep. Remember those sweaters from The Gap with the one stripe across the chest? There’s a lot of that, plus a hideous leather jacket and a swoopy hairdo, completing his transition from sexy-stoner-sensitive-bad-boy to loser-frat-guy-who-knocks-you-down-in-the-lunch-line-because-he’s-too-busy-roughhousing-with-his-bonehead-friends-to-pay-attention. I hate that kind of guy. But if I’m being honest, he actually looks really hot in both of the above pictures.

Laney Boggs

Arguably one of the most famous makeovers of a decade I like to call the 1990s, Rachael Leigh Cook goes from geek to chic with the help of Freddie Prinze Jr., who wants her to be hotter because he has to take her to prom as part of a bet. Super romantic love story for the kids, am I right? There’s nothing exactly wrong with the way Laney looks post-transformation. It’s just that I genuinely like the way she looks before. Sure, as a culture our standards for beauty are currently taking a long, refreshing dive into the nerdy pool, so of course I’m coveting her comically-large glasses and oversized flannel shirts. But I think even then (as evidenced by the easy spoofing of this very character in Not Another Teen Movie) I knew that there was something fishy about the fact that the biggest loser in school needed little more than contacts and a hair brush to become a hottie of the first degree.

Allison Reynolds

Who can forget that miraculous moment near the end of The Breakfast Club when Ally Sheedy emerges from the bathroom having completely shed her goth-girl exterior and become a delicate, feminine flower right down to the bow in her friggin’ hair?! Even crazier, her personality seems to have changed as well?!?! As if the way we dress and speak and do our hair doesn’t actually reflect our true selves and some special secret sorority time alone with Molly Ringwald will prove that inside each and every one of us is a good girl waiting to come out? Um, no. Plus she looked AWESOME before. I love her shaggy rocker hair and that coat with the fur is seriously covetable. Not to be blasphemous against one of the greatest movies of all time, but a more interesting ending might have been Allison making over the Emilio Estevez character to be better suited to her instead of the other way around.


Okay, okay, not technically a makeover, but come on. Beast is so much hotter in beast form than he is at the end with those Jersey Shore muscles and Fabio hair. Gag.

Of course, for every terrible makeover there’s a Tai from Clueless (arguably cute all along, but we have to give Cher props for some of the obvious improvements she implemented), Vivian from Pretty Woman (without which we’d never be able to excessively quote the “big mistake” fashion boutique confrontation), and Andy from The Devil Wears Prada (although it was never quite clear to me whether she was actually buying the clothes she wears for the rest of the movie or just borrowing them? And, like, suddenly she was a hair and makeup expert, too? Bangs take talent, people!).

I think part of what is so attractive to us about makeover montages is the wish-fulfillment of the whole thing. On our worst, lowest, angriest, angstiest days, isn’t it nice to imagine that if we only had the right tools, the right makeup, the right song and the right new friends, we could shed our old selves and become somebody new entirely? I spent most of my middle and high school years wishing for just that. Of course, I’m somebody who’s naturally predisposed to think of my life as a movie anyway. But when my makeover moment never came, I decided maybe our entire lives can be seen as one long, emotional, slow motion makeover montage. And you just have to cross your fingers you’re a Tai instead of a Beast.

Images via tulsa20something.com, m.blu-ray.com, tanshoesandpinkshoelaces.tumblr.com, totalfilm.com, moviefanatic.com, fanpop.com, imdb.com, denny-r-walter.de, dvd.net.au, ismellthereforeiam.blogspot.com, flavorwire.com, collider.com, fanpop.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/abarrios24 Andrea Barrios

    Sandy in Grease. I always hated her makeover. Plus I hated that she was the one that had to change.

    • http://www.facebook.com/BeulaLola Cristi Castillo

      Danny changed too, remember he went and became a jock and showed up at the fair dressed like a jock. But I agree, I liked Sandy the way she was.

    • http://www.facebook.com/noxiez Rebecca Kennedy

      Yeah, I hated her transformation. So did my Primary school, so when we did Grease for a play, we had to change the ending. And @Cristi Castillo– he dressed like a jock, with a jacket… but during the song, he took the jacket off, and looked like he did the rest of the film– minus leather jacket. He got healthier. She got a higher risk of lung cancer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=265501282 Natalie Borriello

    Haha I love this, agree with every single one! I used to call the Beast ‘Nigel’ when he was his less appealing human self but fabio fits perfectly! Aslo can’t believe you mentioned ‘Jawbreaker’ I used to love that movie

  • http://www.facebook.com/stepharchie Stephanie Archibald

    The second I saw this article in my Facebook news feed I was hoping you included Allison from The Breakfast Club and you didn’t let me down.
    Jesus, that scene is my biggest pet peeve of any I’ve seen movie EVER. Even more annoying than Jerry Maguire getting the girl even though he is still a complete tosser at the end or any Nic Cage movie. When I first watched it I uttered the words WTF? WTF? She is the coolest one in the movie and they steal her from me and destroy her. I cannot watch it anymore because it annoys me so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stepharchie Stephanie Archibald

    *any movie I’ve seen

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelsandseagulls Kelsey Bishop

    likely my least favourite makeover ever witnessed on a movie : http://videoeta.com/news/2579
    House Bunny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonmadison Jon Madison

      yow, barf.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shogunofsarcasm Katelin Turner

    I agree with every single one of these! Especially the Jawbreaker and Beauty and the Beast ones (two of my fave movies). I also have one to add. As much as I adore the movie, I was kind of sad at the change in Capt. America. I know it is the entire point of the movie, lol, but he looked so much sweeter before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.jas.munoz J-b Munoz

    The Beauty and the Beast transformation kind of creeped me out…They kind of look like siblings with the same facial structure and the similar colored hair. And I absolutely HATED the Laney Boggs transformation. That makes the way I look like a total joke….I think Laney looked awesome as herself. And that’s what bothers me…what’s wrong with being yourself?

  • http://www.facebook.com/LaDracul Joanna Boese

    Hafta disagree with that last one…nothing he could do about it in the first place. Besides, I’d hate getting clawed during intimacy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacinta.wyld Jacinta Wyld

    completely agree! movies seem to say if you are an individual you arent attractive and cant be happy. such bull.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahrahjane Sarah Hupcey

    omg – So glad to know i’m not the only way who felt that way about Beast. I remember when I was little being like…eew! I liked him better – he looks weird now! Haha. But if it REALLY is about what’s on the inside, we have to like him silky smooth skin and all!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=657131235 Nina Garcia

    Yes! I was SO disappointed with The Breakfast Club makeover of Ally Sheedy! And the Jawbreaker one was terrible too. I agree with Andrea’s post also; Sandy in Grease was not a makeover I appreciated–those black tights were not as attractive as someone obviously thought they were. I never realized there were so many bad makeovers in movies!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1010965461 Samantha Mann

    I thought I was the only who thought the Beast looked better in Beast-form! Then again, I’ve never been big into guys with long hair. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1322138737 Jessica Calhoun

      Thank you! Beards are way cooler than long hair…and the Beast has quite the amazing beard 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001646591249 Jo Putnam

    What about josey off Never Been Kissed…. Her make over from working in the office to being a high schooler was quite cool :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718081293 Liz Lopez

    My mum loves to tell the story of how my eight year old self cried when the beast transformed! I was devasted!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=72611568 Randi Bergsma

    HAHAHAHA! I love it! Judy Greer is freaking gorgeous no matter what. Chase Hammond was my dream guy in high school. I looooooved Drive Me Crazy.


  • http://www.facebook.com/megan.laber Megan M. Laber

    Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada. Smart journalism major with quirks to fashion junky.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593443740 Julia Soubiate

    Awesome post. I enjoyed the “Drive me crazy” nod particularly, since this was my FAVORITE teen movie for as long as I remember! Chase, hmmmm.. Now that I think about it, he was the first “scruffy rock’n’roll” kind of guy that I liked. And now that is the type of guy I’m generally into in real life… Coincidence? Think not! Maybe my life is also ruled by movies. Well, not maybe. Definitely :)

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