TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR
(director: Beeban Kidron; screenwriter: Douglas Carter Beane; cinematographer: Steve Mason; editor: Andrew Mondshein; music: Rachel Portman; cast: Wesley Snipes (Noxeema Jackson), Patrick Swayze (Vida Boheme), John Legizamo (Chi Chi Rodriguez), Stockard Channing (Carol Ann), Blythe Danner (Beatrice), Arliss Howard(Virgil), Jason London(Bobby Ray), Chris Penn (Sheriff Dollard), Melinda Dillon (Merna), Beth Grant (Loretta), Mike Hodge (Jimmy Joe), Alice Drummond (Clara); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: G. Macbrown; Universal; 1995)
“The film was so phony that not even the drag queens looked real.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A low-level camp film about cross-dressers that has little appeal and is witless. It’s a rip-off of the Australian comedy Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Under the direction of the Britisher Beeban Kidron (“Vroom”/”Used People”) the shallow film flounders as a mild diversion, while Douglas Carter Beane’s script keeps things rolling along as cornball funny. NYC drag queen winners Misses Vida (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema (Wesley Snipes) cash-in their free airfare tickets won in a local drag queen contest to bring the novice contest loser Chi Chi (John Leguizamo) along with them to Los Angeles for the nationals. The trio leave the city for Hollywood in a run-down 1967 Cadillac convertible to seek the national title of the drag queen of the year, but they break down in the sleepy Midwest town of Snydersville. In town, the queer looking lot get plenty of hostile stares before they get busy rescuing the town’s abused wife (Stockard Channing), bringing together the white lady (Bythe Danner) with the black nightclub owner (Mike Hodge) she has a secret crush on, dealing with closeted homos and love sick teens. When they leave, they feel good that they could be difference makers in such a middle-American community. Though the comedy might have good social conscience intentions the situations are contrived. The film was so phony that not even the drag queens looked real. The title is derived from an autograph photo of a “statuesque” ’60s actress Julie Newmar, that the three drag queens steal from the wall of a New York restaurant.
REVIEWED ON 10/6/2017 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/