Fighting Belle

Southern beauty queen Delilah (Jessica Harthcock) has gone all out for her wedding day. The guests are assembled, the attendants are ready, and the $5,000 cake is waiting to be eaten. Granted, her mother (Carol Ann Scruggs) is slightly terrifying in her mood swings, and Charlene (Mallory Hynes) is being a typical younger sister, but Delilah is marrying Kelvin (Ryan Czerwonko), the man of her dreams, and all's right with the world.

That is, until the man of her dreams decides to dump her at the altar in favor of one of her bridesmaids (Sherri Eakin). For a while, Delilah tries to drown her sorrows in cold pizza and moping around the house, but finally she decides that the thing to do is to fight back, literally. Kelvin is a boxer, you see, and Delilah wants to beat him at his own game. So she puts on some of her best beauty queen regalia -- and I'm not kidding, she walks around town dressed in ball gowns and tiaras with various sashes like "Miss Pecan Pie" and "Miss Kudzu Queen" -- and heads for the nearest boxing gym.

Tandy (Noah Cook) is the owner, and at first he couldn't be more dismissive of the pretty blonde and her impractical filmy green dress. Who really expects "Miss Mississippi Melon" to want to learn how to throw a punch? But Delilah is nothing if not stubborn, and she quickly becomes a regular at the gym. Romeo (Austin Langley) and Hank (Joshua Powell) think it's a hoot, though Slice (Donnie Pierre) is nothing but disdainful to the new arrival, who she refers to as Cupcake and insults every chance she gets.

After an encounter with Kelvin and his new girl at a charity event, Delilah's plans are accelerated slightly, and soon invitations to the "rematch", as she calls it, are going out in the mail, much to her mother's chagrin. But Delilah's dad (Joel Rogers) is on her side, and with Tandy in her corner she thinks she can at least make a decent showing. Then various misunderstandings start getting in the way and it seems as though the plan might not come together after all... but again, Delilah is nothing if not stubborn.

The film is unfortunately plagued with technical issues -- the sound and video are both of highly variable quality, and that gets distracting. It also starts out very slow, though the pacing does improve before too long. But the good news is that underneath all that is an entertaining movie with solid acting, snappy dialogue, and a fresh new take on the concept of getting even. Jessica Harthcock makes Delilah's transformation funny and yet believable, and all the characters get their own chances to shine. It's a strange combination of warm southern charm and ice-cold revenge that somehow works beautifully.

Image: 
Delilah and Tandy get off on the wrong foot.

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