Overview: One special weekend every year, the small Illinois town of Kewanee turns into a place of celebration and delight, as the annual Miss You Can Do It pageant spotlights young girls with disabilities from around the country. Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa 2008, started the pageant in 2004 to offer these girls, who like herself have special needs, the opportunity to be celebrated for their inner beauty and spirit. Directed and produced by Ron Davis (“Pageant”), MISS YOU CAN DO IT tells Curran’s story and follows eight heroic young girls with physical and mental disabilities as they participate in the pageant.
This film highlights the extraordinary work Curran is doing with the pageant she founded. Curran and a team of enthusiastic volunteers give participants a chance to be celebrated for all they are inside, not just defined by what the world sees on the outside. For one special weekend the young girls, along with family and friends, some who have traveled far distances, spend time in an oasis of fun, femininity and celebration. No one leaves the pageant empty-handed, with each girl receiving a special award. The real winners of the pageant might be the families and friends, who proudly cheer them on from the audience.
Expectations: It will be nice for a change to see a documentary that should leave you feeling the more positive emotions we are imbued with. Documentaries can take many approaches; it is often the darker side of the world that raises the strongest emotions in us and those types of documentaries seem the most impactful for it but, the positive uplifting topics out there are just as a part of us as well and are just as important too.
Though I understand the basic premise of this 75-minute film I hope to get a bit more out of it. I got the ‘what’ now I want to understand the ‘how’ of it and, most importantly, the “why’ of the Miss You Can Do It pageant. I also hope for an emotional paycheck out of it. I want to be refreshed, as it were, with a rewarding look at a niche of society doing something positive, reaching out and helping those who need to feel valued. That is what a good positive documentary is supposed to do. It is to let you know that there are good situations and people out there. Here is hoping I feel that with the HBO Documentary Film: MISS YOU CAN DO IT.
Gut Reaction: Brava, Abbey Currans! You are giving value to these young girl’s lives and it is nice to see. You, know, I was sort of missing the mark with my expectations on this film. Though it does spend time explaining ‘how’ this pageant developed and ‘why’ Miss Currans brought it about it is the ‘who’ that matters here.
You would think that maybe, the “who” in focus is Abbey herself, her disability and her family life and what drove her to create the Miss You Can Do It pageant but, you’d be wrong. Though she does get her accolades the majority of the attention focuses, just as the pageant does, on the young girls. That the pageant exists and all is nice but, what lingers is the contestants themselves. This documentary is filled with pretty smiles and dresses, proud parents and giddy girls. Yes, there are moments of teary-eyed parents and explanations of disabilities but you are not swallowed up by them as the positive elements still dominate the piece. There are some charismatic and bright and soulful youngsters about and they are all living their lives to the best of their abilities and that is a beauty to behold.
In Conclusion: I was touched by the project and the tone this documentary set. One lingering image I will share takes place at the beginning of the film before the title credits even appear. It is the shots of some of the contestants as they appear from behind a wall of glittery streamers and their faces instantly light up. That was beauty in itself. It was indeed a feel-good moment and a feel-good documentary, even though my favorite did not win the title of Queen. She did win 1st Runner-Up though!
People who make a difference are important; people who are different need valued. I hope you find time to take in the HBO Documentary Film: MISS I CAN DO IT.
Additional airdates on HBO are: 06.27 at 11:30am; 06.30 at 8:30am; 07.02 at 1:30pm and 07.06 at 3:00pm. On HBO2 find it on 06.26 at 8:00pm; 06.28 at 5:15pm; 07.09 at 11:35pm; 07.25 at 7:40am and 07.28 at 8:40am and also on HBOGo.