When a friend and I first saw the preview for "To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar", he said, "Looks like a clone of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Yeh, well, Priscilla, being an Australian import, escaped the Hollywood script conferences and careful image handling that were clearly lavished on "Julie Newmar". The movie has great entertainment value while you're watching it & maybe that's the best we can expect from most major studio releases. It is mainly afterwards that the questions start flooding in: Why must these three American drag queens remain in character 24 hours a day? How come they never express their sexuality in any real way? Why must all three function as a non-stop mega Ann Landers to remind everyone else what's wrong with them and how we only need follow their advice to be happy?
Okay, okay, I'll tell you what this movie reminds me of: "Pollyanna". Let's see, they filmed that one in 1920 with Mary Pickford and in 1960 with Hayley Mills, so I guess we're due for a 1995 update. During the course of the movie, Patrick Swayze in a dress beats up a wife beater, Wesley Snipes as Flip Wilson as Geraldine in a dress practically cures a woman with Alzheimer's Disease & John Leguizamo as Rosie Perez in a dress selflessly gives up a romance with adorable Jason London so a romantic small-town girl can have a chance with him. And they show everyone in town how to act & dance & dress so they ALL want to be drag queens. Heartwarming, isn't it?
Fine actors like Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Arliss Howard & Chris Penn do their best with cooky-cutter characters & dreadful dialogue. But only Patrick Swayze transcends the script to create a real flesh-and- blood person. If you're in the mood for a few undiscriminating laughs & you-want-to see what three straight guys look like in dresses AND what Julie Newmar looks like at age 60, this is YOUR movie. Universal Pictures is banking on it.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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