The infectious “Smile” details the inner workings of a local California beauty pageant. The teenage entrants (among them, Melanie Griffith and Annette O’Toole) are by turns guided, bullied and cajoled by perky pageant director Brenda di Carlo (Feldon), jaded choreographer Tommy French (Kidd), and head judge/car salesman “Big Bob” Freelander (Dern), whose unflagging enthusiasm keeps the whole delicate enterprise going.
Don’t miss Michael Ritchie’s subtly devastating take on small-town life and conventions. Dern is a hoot in a rare comic role, and Feldon (from TV’s “Get Smart”) also scores as Brenda, a former beauty queen who uses her job to avoid a failing marriage. Yet it’s Kidd, a first-rate dancer and choreographer from Hollywood’s golden age of musicals, who steals the movie playing Tommy, a professional has-been whose gruff exterior masks a good heart. O’Toole also stands out as a seasoned contestant. A dead-on satiric slice of Americana.