This adaptation of Beth Henley's play The Miss Firecracker Contest abounds with idiosyncratic detail and such familiar Henley ingredients as family madness; but the interplay is more emotionally complicated, the perspective less wilfully detached than, say, Crimes of the Heart. Carnells Scott (Hunter) is known as the loosest lady in her small Mississippi town. She plans to redeem her reputation by winning the Miss Firecracker beauty/talent contest (which, since she was orphaned as a child, assumes enormous importance as a sign of social acceptance), forging ahead with her ambitions both helped and hindered by her cousins, one-time Miss Firecracker Elaine (Steenburgen) and tormented Delmount (Robbins). Despite touches of enforced eccentricity, the story is redeemed by its observation of bittersweet relationships and self-deceptions. Amid notions of self-determination and individual enterprise, Henley is graciously compassionate, embracing human limitations and self-acceptance. Performances are carefully modulated, but this is Holly Hunter's movie. Her show-stopping tap dance to the strains of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is worth the price of admission alone.
Cast and crew