There are as many reasons why we’re fascinated by makeovers as there are great movie makeover scenes. As Clueless’ Dionne says of Cher (in perhaps the best one of all), a makeover “gives her a sense of control in a world full of chaos.” But maybe the reason we love onscreen transformations isn’t that deep. Maybe we’re just holding on to the hope that all it takes to turn an insecure, overlooked ragamuffin into a celebrated, glamorous goddess is a pair of tweezers and a little elbow grease — and a rotating, computerized closet can’t hurt. Whatever it is that makes watching the “before” become the “after” so much fun, here are 13 of the best movie makeover scenes of all time for your viewing pleasure.
In one of the original on-screen transformations, Audrey Hepburn’s character Princess Ann gets a pixie crop to go incognito in Rome (and gets super short bangs way before Grimes was even born). The makeover had the opposite effect on the actress, making her a sensation overnight.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) take the “tragically unhip” Tai (Brittany Murphy) under their wings and transform her into a bona fide baby-tee-rocking 90s high school hottie in a scene that defined the midnight makeover sessions of an entire generation’s sleepovers.
After Julia Roberts’ character Vivian goes on a Rodeo Drive shopping spree in order to play the part of Richard Gere’s high-class girlfriend, she demonstrates the best part of a makeover — getting to watch the haters’ jaws drop. “Big mistake.”
Everyone goes through a couple of image changes in high school, and one of the (many) pleasures of watching Mean Girls is seeing Lindsay Lohan’s character Cady do the same onscreen. Cady leaves behind her flannels and African friendship bracelets to lose her head in the pleated pink miniskirts of The Plastics. Of course, the moral of this movie makeover is that sometimes the “before” is better than the “after.”
At the end of this classic flick, greaser Danny (John Travolta) puts on a jock’s letterman sweater to impress his goody two-shoes girlfriend Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) — only to be literally brought to his knees when he sees that Sandy’s gotten a dramatic makeover of her own, transforming into the cigarette-puffing, rockabilly babe of his dreams. (A musical number ensues.)
The Breakfast Club
In this classic 80s makeover scene, antisocial Allison (Ally Sheedy) trades her eyeliner and all-black getup for a flowered headband and pink ruffles, forever raising the possibility that inside every goth chick there’s a girly girl just waiting to get out.
The Princess Diaries
Anne Hathaway has been made over onscreen a number of times (shaving her head as Fantine in Les Misérables and going from frumpy to fab as Andy in The Devil Wears Prada), but her most memorable makeover has to be in her debut film role as Mia in The Princess Diaries. Paolo (Larry Miller) breaks not only a hairbrush, but also Mia’s nerdy glasses to turn Anne into the doe-eyed princess we know today.
Love & Basketball
“I just want you to enjoy being beautiful,” says the mom of tough and sporty Monica (Sanaa Lathan) as she and a makeup palette-wielding older sister conspire to turn Monica into a glam girl before the spring dance. And enjoy it she does in a steamy scene with a young Omar Epps.
She’s All That
Freddie Prinze Jr. takes on a bet to turn the most unpopular girl in school, Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), into prom queen in six weeks. Who can forget Laney coming down the stairs to Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” as Anna Paquin presents “the new, not improved, but different Laney Boggs”?
The members of Courtney’s (Rose McGowan) clique accidentally kill their leader and decide to transform nerdy Fern (Judy Greer) into a beautiful exchange student to distract the student body. But as the other popular girls warn, “You can’t hide the truth with a makeover.”
Before Sandra Bullock snagged an Oscar, she was getting primped, waxed and squeezed into a mini dress as tomboy cop turned undercover beauty pageant contestant Gracie.
The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, who undergoes the ultimate image change from poor District 12 tribute to “The Girl on Fire” — a role which echoed the star’s own catapult to fame.
No makeover compendium would be complete without the makeover that gave us the term “Cinderella story” (and made us all wish for a fairy godmother and/or a team of industrious rodent stylists to make us a bespoke gown).