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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)


Starring: Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing and Blythe Danner
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 08 April 2019

Noxeema Jackson and Vida Boheme are successful drag queens, who win a regional contest and the chance to travel across America to compete in Hollywood. When the two find a young and inexperienced Chi-Chi Rodriguez crying on the stairs, Veda decides to take pity on her and invite Chi-Chi to come with them to the Pageant…

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995. 1 hr, 48 min, 20 sec) is a comedy, directed by Beeban Kidron. The film stars Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo.

At first, I thought that, given its premise, it would just be a clone of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) and while they share similarities, the homophobia here is played mostly for jokes.

The girls get off to a bad start, deciding to choose a car for its looks and not for its ability to get them as far as they needed to go. The inevitable happens and the trio break down in a small town. This, though, is not before they run into Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn). Penn does what he can with the water thin plot he is given.

The Sheriff attempts to sexually assault Veda (Swayze) before having his own Crying Game moment. When Veda fights back it looks like they have killed him. Recovering, the Sheriff wants to track them down as a bunch of perverts. As Penn’s character is not at the heart of what the film is trying to say, his role is irrelevant and could have been completely cut with no detriment to the final story.

Stuck in the small, drab town, Veda, Noxeema and Chi-Chi discover that almost wholly the women in the town are unhappy and unfulfilled. Worse, Carol Ann (Stockard Channing) is being physically abused by her husband Virgil (Arliss Howard).

Noxeema, meanwhile, befriends Clare, whose husband ran the local cinema before his death. The townsfolk think that she is mad as she doesn’t appear to respond to anyone who talks to her.

Chi-Chi, being more than a little vivacious is manhandled by some of the town's rednecks but is saved by Bobby Ray (Jason London) who falls madly in love with her. Not hard to believe as John Leguizamo’s performance is nigh on perfect and mostly the audience will forget that this is a man in drag.

Swayze presents Veda as a strong but kind woman, one who will not easily allow Carol Ann’s abuse to continue and Snipes drops his usual machismo for the role.

The film is quite gentle, the trio rarely imbue their characters with any sexuality and while Chi-Chi is overly flirtatious, even she, eventually, does the right thing.

If anything, the film is more about empowerment and acceptance for both men and women and the need not to get stuck in a rut that you think life has made for you. It is never too late to be glorious.

Given its age there is film grain, but its not intrusive. The Blu-ray comes with the original Trailer (2 min, 11 sec) and a set of deleted and extended scenes (15 min, 8 sec).


Charles Packer

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