Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay (2002)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature]  |   Release Date - Oct 7, 2002 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Hastings

Very much a piece with the similarly irreverent movies-of-the-week When Billie Beat Bobby and Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company, this warts-and-all period biopic of cosmetics queen Mary Kay takes a minor moment in pop culture history and elevates it to the level of broad, affectionate satire. If anything, Hell on Heels indulges in too much vamp-camp: The wild zooms, fractured-screen editing techniques, and swooning, jokey score occasionally reveal the filmmakers' desperation for laughs, even when the screenplay's epic accounts of back-stabbing are more than enough to hold any audience's attention. In fact, the casting alone could've carried the film, what with Shirley MacLaine digging into perhaps her ripest part since Terms of Endearment and Parker Posey providing the perfect counterbalance of frazzled, self-obsessed pluck. Thanks to their contributions and director Ed Gernon's fleet-footed sense of pacing, Hell on Heels hits far more often than it misses, providing the kind of trenchant humor last seen in such biting Americana parodies as Used Cars or The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom.