Thoughts on… To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

To_wong_foo_(1995)A comedy film about three beautiful drag queens on a cross-country journey, To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995, dir. Beeban Kidron) has a lot of heart and some gorgeous costume choices. Here’s the synopsis:

After Vida Boheme and Noxeema Jackson win a major New York drag contest and a trip to Hollywood, they are persuaded to take the inexperienced drag princess Chi-Chi with them. They hire a beat-up old Cadillac and set off for Los Angeles, but their car breaks down in a small town in the middle of nowhere. With just their wits and an endless supply of garish costumes, they transform the town and everyone who lives there–until homophobic cop Sheriff Dollard catches up with them… (source)

And here are some of my thoughts on this crazy film, henceforth known simply as To Wong Foo, since the title of this film is too long for its own good.

  1. I can’t believe I’d never seen this before the other night. I thought I would find it kind of dumb, but I actually enjoyed it.
  2. The story is simple, but it has a lot of heart and a nice message about the importance of personal strength and authenticity.
  3. It cannot be denied that Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo are pretty great at being drag queens. They all look beautiful as women and their affectations are very feminine.
  4. It’s quite significant that we see about two minutes of Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze as their pre-drag male selves, whilst they spend the entire rest of the film in drag. This sets up an interesting dynamic where this isn’t a story about the conflict of male versus female identity, but rather a celebration of the feminine.
  5. Eagle-eyed drag enthusiasts will spot not only the one and only RuPaul at the beginning of this film, but also Lady Bunny, Candis Cayne (pre-transition), and Miss Coco Peru, amongst other famous personas.
  6. I would love to see a remake of this film with actual drag queens as the protagonists though. Perhaps a remake done by a selection of the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I would 100% watch that.
  7. I can’t figure out if the filmmakers deliberately chose masculine actors to transform into very beautiful drag queens, or if the filmmakers truly predicted that Snipes, Swayze and Leguizamo would be very convincing females.
  8. I really enjoyed To Wong Foo, although if I was going to compare it to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), I think I like Priscilla more.
  9. To Wong Foo is pretty fluffy and light, and touches upon some pretty big issues for the queer community, but it almost deliberately sideswipes them so that the film maintains its not-so-serious tone.
  10. All in all, an enjoyable watch, but don’t expect anything too profound.

3/5
Watch the trailer here.

P.S.: Here’s Wesley Snipes in all his glory as Noxeema Jackson:

get

12 comments

  1. I also found this to be enjoyable. Your review pretty much nails how I feel about it. Well, I don’t want a remake, but only because we have more than enough remakes, ugh. As far as choosing these particular actors, not sure how they picked Swayze and Snipes, but Leguizamo wasn’t a stretch at all. His one man show that was very popular on Broadway included him doing a number of feminine characters and doing them very well.

    1. I agree with you on the remake front! What with the upcoming remake of Mary Poppins (apparently…), it’s just too much. But I would love to see this interpreted by actual drag queens, I think it would be fabulous! I really like John Leguizamo though, I always like him in his films.

  2. Just imagining these three in drag is funny enough, but because they’re all so game, it works a little bit better. Nice review.

    1. Thanks heaps Dan! Great film! 🙂

  3. abbiosbiston · · Reply

    I need to watch this again. It’s such a fun movie and it’s where my love affair with John Leguizamo as an actor started. I would love to see it remade with some of the big stars from Drag Race. It’s one of my favourite shows.

    1. I love RuPaul’s Drag Race so much! I’m trying to think about who would be who. I’m thinking maybe Chad Michaels for Vida Boheme and Latrice for Noxeema Jackson, but I can’t think of who could be Chi-Chi.

      1. abbiosbiston · · Reply

        Adore Delano!!!

        1. The perfect choice! 😀

  4. I saw this a long time ago but I’ve been hoping to get a copy. I remember liking it. 🙂

    1. It’s an enjoyable one! 🙂

  5. One of my wife’s favourite movies, so was amazed to see this poster here!
    Loved Robin Williams’ cameo, but probably wldn’t want to watch that again now.
    Thanks for Liking my stuff
    Cheers!

    1. Yes, I almost forgot about his cheeky cameo! Such a good film! 😀

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