Like many of you, I’m a huge fan of any film that features a makeover as an integral part of the plot. Makeovers are fun, they’re funny, and they generally require some dance moves and a montage. But have you noticed something else, something more subtle about movie makeovers? Many of these transformations wind up being too extreme and, because of it, our beloved heroines drift away from the wonderful, unique parts of their personality that made them so special in the first place.
That’s why (and I’m about to assert something controversial here) the best part of many movie makeovers is when there’s a post-makeover makeover. This occurs when a character realizes the makeover went too far, she can’t be herself anymore, and she remembers she actually likes who she really is, underneath this new shiny made-over person. While makeover montages are all about girly-fantasy (new hair and clothes and shoes and getting rid of your glasses and walking with a book on your head), post-makeover makeovers are about adding confidence to who you really are. Which, in my opinion, is when the magic happens.
For examples of this wonderful phenomenon, check out some of the best post-makeover makeovers:
The Barden Bellas go through fearless leader Aubrey’s rigorous training program in order to be transformed into championship-winning, a capella-bots. While the girls do learn to conform and sing and dance in unison, there’s no pizazz left. The girls are forced to wear matching outfits akin to flight attendant uniforms along with tying back their hair and pulling out any piercings and any form of style that defines them personally. It’s only when they let Becca take the reins and embrace their natural talents that the girls really shine, which is more than evident in their post-makeover makeover final performance.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
There is no pair of best friends more made for each other than Romy and Michele, living their amazing lives in Southern California. But when the time comes for their high school reunion, suddenly the girls have doubts. Romy decides they need to ditch their real personalities and present themselves as high-powered business ladies, the kind that eat business-lady lunches and invent Post-Its, in order to impress their friends and rivals. Luckily, they learn that dropping the facade and just being their amazing selves is how they can truly be their best. And they express that beautifully in their final dance performance, changing out of business suits and into super cute outfits for their true final transformation. Also by telling those mean girls with ugly hearts to go eff themselves.
The House Bunny
These girls received what had to be the most tragic makeovers in the history of film. Shelly squeezes the poor gals into tiny, tight clothes and piles on so much make up and hair dye they’re almost unrecognizable. She takes a band of lovable misfits and turns them into a group of snooty snobs. Before they totally go off the deep end into popular girl hell, they realize they’ve lost all the qualities that made them each so unique. But they do gain the confidence they always needed. And they end up more self-assured versions of their original awesomeness. We even get the reverse makeover when Shelly, the Playboy Bunny, gets a smart-gal transformation. And even she realizes she should just be her smart-yet-sexy-looking self to be her happiest.
Andy lets the devil get the better of her, and who wouldn’t if the devil was Meryl Streep? She starts out wanting be to a “serious” journalist who dresses like your average lady. Sure, her skirts may not be the most flattering length, her sweaters entirely acrylic, and her shoes non-stiletto, but it’s not the most tragic case in the kingdom of fashion disasters. But after receiving the runway treatment, which involves glossing her hair, dropping a clothing size, and wearing heels at all times, she also abandons her original goals and neglects her personal relationships. Before she can become the next devil, she realizes that isn’t who she wants to be. She gets back to her roots a little stronger, wiser, and little more fashionable.
Cady Heron turns from a nice, well-meaning, home-schooled nerd who is wonderful into a regular mean girl. A bitch, as Janice Ian might say. Cady is manipulated by Regina George into becoming a pawn in the mean girl game of high school. She trades in cute jeans and plaid button-downs for mini-skirts and push-up bras, which would be fine if it didn’t also change her whole personality. It’s after she pushes away all her real friends, almost gets a teacher fired, and basically starts a riot that she realizes popularity and being mean to get ahead is not the way to do it. So she casts aside her mean girl get-up, and instead rocks a Mathlete jacket to show where her true allegiance lies. It might be the best post-makeover make-under in recent movie history.