To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 1995.  Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment. Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

When a novice drag queen () fails miserably in a local pageant, grand prize co-winners  and  decide to take the young lady under their wing and escort her across the country to the west coast where they’re headed for a nationwide drag pageant. To do so, of course, requires them cashing in their first class plane tickets and buying an old jalopy before heading out on their trip only to be waylaid by car trouble in the middle of the middlest of Middle America. Now, they’re surrounded by tough mechanics and bored housewives and don’t know who to be scared of first. This comedy by director Beeban Kidron has some nice moments for its superlatively talented stars to play with, particularly an astoundingly attractive and funny Leguizamo (though Swayze’s graceful beauty also deserves mention), but the very basic premise that the film rests on is a faulty one: real drag queens don’t dress in drag 24 hours a day. In fact,  gives a speech at point about the differences between transsexuals and drag queens and the film resolutely opposes this very explanation.  Other than that, the film takes a good look at its characters without reducing them to a sideshow attraction, mostly thanks to the work of the actors involved, but even in its best moments it never comes close to being as good as its Australian counterpart, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Patrick Swayze); Best Supporting Actor (John Leguizamo)

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