Driving Miss Swayze
I hate to say this but "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" is one of those movies which ends up more amusingly curious than anything else. I say amusingly curious because the fun of having Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as drag queens is not only funny but works well. But get beyond the comedy of having these 3 macho stars playing drag queens and a few cameos and you are left wondering what the point is. The trouble is that whilst "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" tries to make a statement about being yourself and living life your way it ends up taking a backseat causing the second half of the movie to go around in circles being fun but little else.
Having been crowned joint winners of a New York Drag Queen pageant Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze - Point Break) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes - Demolition Man) win the right to compete in the Hollywood Drag Queen of America pageant. But rather than fly to Hollywood they decide to drive and take young drag queen Chi-Chi (John Leguizamo - The Happening) along with them to teach him all they know about being the best Drag Queen possible. But along the way they not only have a run in with the law in the shape of Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn - True Romance) but also end up breaking down and forced to spend a weekend in a back water town whilst their car is fixed.
Now it has to be said that Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo dressed as drag queens provides for plenty of laughs and this side of "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" keeps you entertained for the first half of things. But the trouble is that whilst fun to start with once the novelty wears off you are left wanting more and but more never really comes. Yes it is amusing as these drag queens bring life to a sleepy town but it never seems to be going anywhere and struggles to deliver the same level of fun which comes from Swayze, Snipes and Leguizamo dressed in frocks. Even the subplot which sees Sheriff Dollard trying to track them down in an act of revenge fails to be anything other than a minor distraction.
Don't get me wrong as this is still all good fun and "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" easily brings a smile to your face but it seems to be lacking something. That something is in many ways a point, a message as whilst it tries to deliver a cliche message about being yourself and living your life your way it ends up feeling like an after thought tagged on because the writers felt obliged to give a movie about drag queens a message. If only they had made this message, the battle for men dressed as women and to be accepted more pivotal then maybe it would have worked and stopped the second half from feeling like it was spinning its wheels.
Now there are a lot of enjoyable performances going on in "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" from the likes of Blythe Danner, Stockard Channing, Melinda Dillon and Chris Penn plus some entertaining cameos from Robin Williams and of course Julie Newmar it is the trio of men who make this work. It has to be said that as Vida Patrick Swayze looks like he is having a ball dressing as a women, leading the trio nicely as he embraces his feminine side. Talking of embracing their feminine side you have to say that as Chi-Chi John Leguizamo could pass for a woman, not a badly made up drag queen but a woman which is kind of scary. And then there is Wesley Snipes who may not come across as comfortable delivering the feminine side as the others still delivers a wonderful camp performance full of attitude.
What this all boils down to is that "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" is a fun movie and well worth a watch just to see Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as drag queens. But it does feel like it relies too heavily on the novelty of this trio of macho stars dressed in frocks and once that wears off struggles to deliver either a worth while story or a message which you expect from these sorts of movies.