When we’re talking about romantic comedies (and some other movies, I guess), a very popular plot device is the ugly duckling transformation. It’s where a perfectly physically gorgeous actress gets paid to look like a much uglier girl in the first half of the movie, only to turn into her real self in the final act.
And while we all might claim that real beauty is on the inside, it’s a tried and true recipe that has carried many movies in the past and will continue to do so for as long as audiences accept it. Let’s take a look at some of the movies that did the ugly duckling transformation the best.
The Princess Diaries
Well, this is the most known ugly duckling story, isn’t it? We see Mia Thermopolis evolve from a typical ugly duckling you wouldn’t look at twice into a stunning Anne Hathaway.
This somewhat ancient movie has character Loretta Castorini turn into a gorgeous woman that looks suspiciously like Cher, to woo a man that looks a lot like Nicholas Cage. That’s literally the entire plot of the movie.
Hey, it counts – it’s pretty much the original ugly duckling story. And it still holds up 70 years later, so it deserves a spot on this list.
Never Been Kissed
Drew Barrymore has always been the perfect ugly duckling actress because she can really tap into a wide range of visual attractiveness with very minor changes. In this movie, her character Josie Geller does just that.
Nothing much to be said here, since the movie itself is pretty bland (albeit executed well). Tai Frasier is an ugly duckling until people give her a makeover and they discover that she isn’t. And now she won’t get bullied at school anymore because hot girls get special privileges!
She’s All That
Guy gets into a bet to hit on an ugly girl, Laney Boggs, only to find out at the end of the movie that she’s actually been gorgeous all this time. That’s probably paraphrasing the movie a bit, but it’s not wrong.
My Fair Lady
We all know the story of how Eliza Doolittle went from duckling to swan. My Fair Lady is still a classic and holds up pretty well if you watch it today. So if you haven’t already, you should.