Writer/director Autumn McAlpin fully embraces the modern-woman girl-power of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot with the July 12, 2019 theatrical/VOD/digital release of "Miss Arizona." Also, like "Ghostbusters," McAlpin pays wonderful homage to the past in a very woke fashion.
[Update: "Arizona" was released on DVD on August 27, 2019.]
The first of a few asides is that the title of "Arizona" relates to a classic riddle. The question is "why was the Miss America pageant short a contestant?" The answer is "because no one wanted to be Miss Ida Ho."
The "elevator speech" recap of the ""Arizona" concept is that a former beauty queen turned trophy wife forms a sisterhood of the travelling misfits and learns the value of hos before bros.
The following YouTube clip of an "Arizona" trailer follows the same principle as the above synopsis. This promo. rapidly takes us through the entire movie and even briefly provides the life story of each major character.
The second aside in this post is that the always-amusing and often hilarious "Arizona" coming attraction honors the humor of the HILARIOUS nine-minute indie film "Trailer: The Movie" (2001). IMDb PERFECTLY describes that one as "when two filmmakers discover their blockbuster is really just a bust, they cut together every half-decent shot into a misleading trailer to dupe audiences and save their careers."
The traditional aspects of "Arizona" begin with this almost literally "day in the life of" film commencing with titular American beauty Rose (Johanna Braddy) waking up in bed next to negligent power-agent husband Rick (Kyle Howard). She then wakes up growing boy 10 year-old Sawyer and serves her men a delicious nutritious breakfast because their maid has the day off.
Rick heading off to New York to attend the Tonys, and Sawyer going to school ahead of a sleepover leaves Rose with an empty nest.
Our lady of leisure becomes a lady who lunches on Rick calling her to demand that she perform her corporate spouse duty. The aside this time is that your not-so-humble reviewer refers to this as Samantha Stephens duty without the fun of being able to turn the client into a monkey when asked to attend a corporate event.
Rose gathering with her fellow real housewives of Beverly Hills leads to her volunteering to teach a life-skills class at a women's shelter that afternoon. The ensuing unfortunate circumstances lead to the hilarity with a touch of "Orange is the New Black" that ensues in the film.
Rose arises to find male shelter manager Bigs largely indifferent to her presence. He offers this rich white lady (avec sash and tiara) who has always lead a privileged life minimal support in her effort to reach the down-and-out shelter residents. These folks on whom enlightenment is being forced are even less receptive.
The imminent arrival of an uninvited guest requires that the shelter residents run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Car trouble leads to Rose becoming their chauffeur.
A chance encounter drives (no pun intended) the rest of the action. Shelter resident Leslie (Robyn Lively of "Teen Witch") sees the car of her husband at the home of his cousin. This is of particular interest because the husband is guilty of parental kidnapping, and Leslie does not know where he is keeping their offspring.
Subsequent subterfuge results in the group learning where the kids are stashed; the gig being up leads to a frantic car chase.
The type of treat that makes indie films so special follows when the women go to a police station for assistance. A cop played by master of deadpan Tom McLaren ("Expelled" and "All American Bikini Car Wash") is surprised to find a former acquaintance in the station waiting room. He gets good mileage from merely saying "You again? Keep you nose clean." and walking out before the woman can respond.
Rose discovering that she cannot rely on her friends and family leads to the closest homage of the entire film. She and her new friends find themselves in West Hollywood (aka WeHo) in desperate need of money.
Discovering a drag-queen contest leads to the Lucy and Ethel caliber crazy scheme of having the former Miss America contestant compete. One character aptly refers to the classic Julie Andrews cross-dressing period-piece comedy film "Victor"/"Victoria."
It seems that McAlpin has a "Must See" show in mind when taking the film in that direction. An episode of the '90scom "Wings," which revolves around two brothers operating a struggling commuter airline on Nantucket, finds one of the brothers and the "girl" to the "two guys" stranded in New York. Their solution is to have the woman compete in a drag contest so that they can get enough money to return to their island.
Personal experience shows that McAlpin is well-tuned into the drag-queen mentality. They generally are a vicious lot that equally steal the clothes almost literally off the back of the others and get very upset when that occurs. At the same time, some of these boys who put so much into their art can be the nicest people in the world.
Suffice it to say that a permed "Cher" out there does not take kindly to being mistaken for Fran Drescher, and that anyone should be cool with adoration that includes a kiss on the cheek from a nice queen.
Worlds collide and revelations are achieved during the contest. Finding out about the secret life of an acquaintance is another true-life aspect of this portion of "Arizona."
This long strange day and night ends with a neo-Hollywood ending that involves the standard unexpected angel as well as Rose getting her groove back.
Although largely presented as a feminist fable, the message of this movie that should appeal to everyone from their teens to their 80s comes from another classic film. Everyone of every gender and sexual orientation should be excellent to each other.