Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Romanian
10 Deleted scenes
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar
R4 . COLOR . 104 mins .
PG . PAL
The scene is set, it is the final of the 'Drag Queen of New York' contest and the claws are out. The winner is to receive a trip to LA to compete in the 'National Drag Queen' contest and for the first time there is a dead heat. The winners are Miss Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Miss Noxzeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes). Poor little drag queen wannabe Miss Chi Chi Rodriquez (John Leguizamo) is distraught, having never won anything. Being such a kind soul, Vida suggests that she and Noxzeema cash in their flight tickets and invite Chi Chi along. The cheapest way to do this is to buy a car and drive, so they contact a friend (Robin Williams) and find themselves a Cadillac convertible, opting for style rather than substance.
Thelma, Louise and Patrick?
After a run in with an overly friendly redneck in one Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn), the car inevitably breaks down. They are towed to Snydersville, a small town in desperate need of some life. These career girls are quickly accepted by the local ladies and set about helping them plan their annual 'Strawberry Pie Day'. The ladies of the town may be accepting, but not so many of the men. One particular opponent is Virgil (Arliss Howard), not because the girls are drag queens but more so because of the influence they are having on his wife Carol Ann (Stockard Channing). Virgil is a wife beater and resents Vida’s interference.
"Ready or not, here comes Momma!"
The girls have a huge impact on the town and make some friends while also making an impression on their enemies. This may be small town America, but surely these people realise these are men in dresses? Perhaps they do, but they seem to hide it well. Will there be a happy ending? Who cares as long as they look fabulous!
The biggest problem with reviewing this title is trying to distance it from the brilliant Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. There was huge debate at the time and claims that To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar was a blatant copy of the Aussie classic. The similarities are enormous, but how do they compare against each other? Well in this reviewer's opinion there is no contest, Priscilla wins hands down!
As a stand alone film this is reasonable, with some well known stars. As stated before, though, it is impossible not to compare it with Priscilla and it just doesn’t cut it. The first criticism would have to be the casting. Patrick Swayze is quite convincing as a woman, but the intention surely is to be a drag queen rather than a transsexual. Wesley Snipes is simply a man in a dress. He attempts to deliver the drag queen attitude with some witty lines, but sadly he is not really believable. John Leguizamo is really the only convincing drag queen here and could quite easily pass off as a woman alone, but he also possesses the required attitude to pull it off. The divine Stockard Channing has never attained the heights she so richly deserved. Since the majority of the world first met her in Grease as the sassy Rizzo, she has failed to play many noticeable roles which is such a shame. Granted this is only this reviewer’s opinion and no offence is intended, but this wonderful actress should have been cast in so many better roles than she has been.
There are some cameo appearances worth a mention, Julie Newmar makes a brief appearance, while RuPaul and Robin Williams are more noticeable and, for me, were the highlights of the film. The other saving grace here is perhaps a better acceptance by the general public towards drag queens, but this could have been done in a much better way.
If you haven’t got the picture yet, this film is a poor second to Priscilla, so all I can say on this one is that it is worth seeing if you are a fan of any of the cast, just to see them in drag, but for the rest of us, spend your money on Priscilla. The Aussie film is so much funnier, has better music and is far more realistic.
Picture is supplied in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced, looking quite impressive. Colours are vivid and natural and shadow detail is above average. The print used is relatively clean of artefacts with only minimal instances of flecks or dirt. Grain is evident and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum.
The layer change is discretely hidden between a scene change at 68:00 and most will not notice its existence. There are a multitude of subtitles and the English ones viewed proved accurate.
Audio is supplied in a choice of Czech and Hungarian Dolby Digital Stereo along with the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Dialogue is clear throughout, although it is a strain at times to understand the strong Latin accent of Miss Chi Chi. Sound is kept predominantly across the front speakers with the rears only really called into action for some subtle music ambience. The music used is only occasionally dominant as it is mostly used in the background. There are some wonderful songs on this soundtrack, so to a degree it is a pity it doesn’t get a more prominent role. The subwoofer gets very little action throughout and synch is never a problem.
The only extras supplied with this release are a selection of deleted scenes. With a total running time of 15:04 this is a nice inclusion, but it lacks in picture and sound quality. The scenes included are entitled Extended Restaurant Scene, Style vs Substance, The First Step to Queenliness, Chi Chi's charms, A Day With the Girls, Salade Nicoise, Beatrice's "Red and Wild", A Woman's Place, Taking a Chance and Extended Goodbye Scene.
Oops, this review has turned out more positive for Priscilla rather than positive or negative for the actual title in question. If you are able to separate the two films and watch this as a stand alone affair then it is worth taking a look, if for nothing else but to see the main stars in drag. The picture quality is good and the audio quality is average so if you see this in the bargain bin or weekly rental sections it is worth picking up, otherwise wait for a re-run on television.