Monday, February 23, 2009

"This is real life! There are steps to becoming a Queen."

You know how I know you're a mid-1990s movie?

That's what kept going through my head during the first of 3 posts about this weekend's endeavours in movieland, aka movies and more!  Because you know when you're watching a movie from this era.  There's just something in the cinematography, the font, the jokes...

So the movie of the night for Friday, obviously, was To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, a two-star movie from 1995 (as if you couldn't tell by my introduction).  Not a part of the TCM's 31 Days, but nonetheless, it could be found on my DVR.  Just couldn't figure out when exactly it should be watched.  And destiny came about on Friday.  With the one-year anniversary of a good friend's death, it just seemed appropriate.  And seeing as this was one of his favorite movies, it just had to be viewed in his memory.  As much as it meant to him, I can see why it was only two stars, but let's get to the quick synopsis first...

So we start out with Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze - yes, that Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes - yes, that Wesley Snipes) getting into ultimate queen mode, as they are drag queens getting ready for a big New York drag queen contest.  Of course, it ends in a tie between Vida and Noxeema, who are bound for Los Angeles to compete in the national competition.  Now where's the drama in this?  Bring in the stereotypical hispanic queen, Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo - and yes, the joke about "her" name isn't dated at all...), who is crying her eyes out because she thinks she should have won.  Of course Vida wants to transform her, although Noxeema doesn't think too highly of Chi-Chi.  While planning their trip, a picture of Julie Newmar is seen in an eating establishment, and that defines the journey they'll be making across the country.  What ensues is a cross-country trip that only gets a few hundred miles in.  Dealing with how those of the "normal" world might perceive them, the "girls" try to avoid any hotels or locations that might not take too kindly to them.

Somehow, they survive until they're pulled over by a cop, who tries to get lucky with Vida.  Because of "her" strength, Vida pushes him aside, only to think "she's" killed him.  They scurry off until the car breaks down in a small town in the middle of nowhere (literally, that's what the summary says on IMDb, so I didn't know that it actually existed!).   Over one weekend, they're able to change the small town's perception on drag queens, and at the same time, the girls learn to be a valuable team.  At the end of the movie, the typical happy endings occurs (with a key cameo - of course!).

What did I think of this movie? Typical mid-90s tripe.  Nothing to make me want to really ever see it again.  I understand it is a strong symbolic film for drag queens (although I don't think anyone would confuse Swayze, Snipes, and Leguizamo for women, which I can't say for the small town they crash).  It just seemed like the movie should have been about an ENTIRE journey across the country.  So for the girls to stop early on just seemed pointless, even though I understand it was to show that drag queens are people, too.  For what it was, it could have been much more.  I did like the different categorizations for men dressing like women.  Finally!  Someone made it all clear to me what defines a transvestite vs. transsexual vs. drag queen.  And of course, only Snipes could be the one to explain it all.  Snipes, the man who has been a daywalking Vampire, a street baller, and a badass villain in Demolition Man, he was a weird choice for a drag queen.

Ultimately, it could have been much more, for a movie and for the transgendered community.  Of course, the movie has an emotional connection because of my friend, but that's all it is for me.  I can say with the utmost confidence it won't be part of my DVD collection, but that's not to say you shouldn't see it once.  Once is actually plenty enough.  Next up, a post about this weekend's DVD choice, a real uplifting tale... about as uplifting as trying to carry a two-thousand page manuscript.  Until then, I leave you with this, probably the best part of this movie.  Later!

No comments:

Post a Comment