To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar Review

Image for To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

Two drag queens set off from New York to compete in the cross- dresser's equivalent of Miss America and, en route, pick up a drag wannabe.


At first glance this would appear to be Hollywood's answer to last year's Antipodean sleeper The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, with the added bonus of three established beefcake stars donning nail varnish, gaudy attire and camp manner. Except it's not a mudpack on the quirky original.

This lengthily titled tribute to the statuesque Catwoman actress (explained by her message scribbled on a photo to a Chinese restaurateur), may revel in its high-spirited feelgood factor but, even in treading the same terra firma as Terence Stamp and co., it evades much of the wit and insight which made Priscilla so enjoyable. Having jointly scooped the Drag Queen Of New York title (from previous holder RuPaul), Vida Boheme (Swayze), and Noxeema Jackson (Snipes) win the opportunity to compete in the Drag Queen Of America contest in Hollywood. However, taking pity on drag wannabe and glaringly obvious bad loser. Chi Chi Rodriguez (Leguizamo, doing a shockingly accurate take on Rosie Perez), Vida takes the protege under his/her wing, and the three set off on a cross-country trip to LA in a battered old convertible. And when the car gives up the ghost in a tiny backwater town, it doesn't take a genius to predict the outcome.

The underlying problem is the failure to introduce anything new and original to an already fading genre. Any opportunity to probe more deeply into the subject of cross-dressing is shrugged off at a moment's notice in favour of the more obvious avenues of campy quips, dumb stereotypes and eye-straining outfits, with more serious issues such as domestic violence and non-conformity chucked in hamfistedly as an attempt to add depth.

Swayze and Snipes do their best to wring some entertainment value out of the limited material, winning the audience over to a certain extent (Snipes bags all the best lines, while Swayze looks worryingly at home in his feminine guise). This little whimsy of a movie, however, is liable to hit home only with niche audiences, and those swayed by the novelty of seeing a bunch of action types slip into something a little more comfortable.

Despite the stars best efforts this is neither funny or original.