Fresh off “Hairspray,” Nikki Blonsky delivers an utterly charming performance in this satisfying fact-based story, about an overweight teenager nominated for homecoming queen as a cruel prank. Granted, this made-for-TV vehicle runs out of gas several lengths short of the finish line with its fat girl suffers, wins, suffers some more and finally triumphs formula, and the dialogue is frequently clunky. Still, Blonsky brings real heart to the role, and even if obesity as “acceptable discrimination” veers toward “after-school special” territory, it’s a story that should resonate with plenty of couch potatoes, plus-sized and otherwise.
Think of this as the plumper side of “Mean Girls” or “Heathers,” or “Carrie” if she took solace in Twinkies instead of murdering the student body. Blonsky stars as Maggie, the self-described “loser fat girl” singled out for ridicule by the popular clique. As a further indignity, she’s nagged about her weight by her mom (Annie Potts), a widow since Maggie’s overweight dad died of diabetes. Worse, mom’s imagined alter ego keeps popping up in her head, reinforcing every doubt she harbors.
When the nomination occurs, Maggie’s first impulse is to decline it, but her friend Casey (Lilly Holleman) coaxes her into letting the other social misfits stage a campaign on her behalf. And if the outcome is hardly suspenseful, watching Maggie wrestle with her insecurities — sneaking candy bars, or changing in the bathroom so other girls won’t see her in gym class — taps into an emotional well that runs considerably deeper than the predictable material.
Potts lends fine support as the concerned mom, and the young cast is generally solid, with welcome gradations within the skinny bitch contingent. Still, it’s Blonsky and her wonderfully expressive face that shine the brightest, whether she’s pouting at herself in the mirror, grinning sheepishly or beaming broadly. (As a footnote, the pic was shot post-“Hairspray” and quickly turned around to cash in on Blonsky’s new-found celebrity.)
Director Peter Levin helmed another uplifting Lifetime biopic, “Homeless to Harvard,” but struggles a bit here in stretching Richard and Nora Kletter’s script to movie length, and too many snippets of dialogue sound like public-service announcements. Yet even if the message is a trifle (pardon the expression) heavy handed, it’s one that TV doesn’t proffer often enough, and with its plucky heroine, “Queen Sized” has found just the right spokeswoman.