Film Scouts Reviews

"To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar"

by Eleanor Ringel

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Perhaps the most shocking thing about this drag-queen comedy is how very unshocking it is. This is drag, Disney style - a gee-transvestites-are-people-too! saga that you could take your grandma to. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but somehow the idea of squeaky-clean queens playing fairy godmothers to a dusty Middle American town goes way beyond camp. Borrowing the plot (though, alas, not the tone or wit) of the Aussie hit, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," director Bebe Kidron sends a trio of Manhattan drag queens - twinkly maternal Vida (Patrick Swayze); sassy, smart-mouthed Noxema (Wesley Snipes); and hot-to-trot Chi Chi (John Leguizama) - cross-country to Hollywood. Their car breaks down en route in Snydersville, Nebraska, and soon they're giving the entire town a mega-makeover. The men learn respect and thoughtfulness while the women (including Stockard Channing and Blythe Danner) learn the empowering magic of self-esteem, sex appeal and sequins. "Wong Foo" somehow manages to be both a milestone and an embarrassment, an embrace and, oddly enough, an emasculation.

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