“ Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 1995 / Parental Guidance / Director: Beeban Kidron / Actors: Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner ... / DVD released 2005-08-01 at Uca Catalogue / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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'To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar' stars Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes as you've probably never seen them before... and in roles that you'd never expect them to play! Along with John Leguizamo, they play Noxeema (Snipes), Vida (Swayze) and Chi-Chi (Leguizamo), drag queens on a journey from New York to Hollywood for a drag queen beauty pageant. Along the way, things don't go quite as they'd planned and they end up stuck in the sleepy, Mid West, small town of Snydersville for the weekend. In this drab town, they stand out a mile in their flamboyant and glitzy outfits, but they make the best of the unfortunate situation.
This film was released in 1995, but I have only just got around to watching it... and if you've not watched it then you're missing out! In fact, I'd only heard of "To Wong Foo..." after reading Patrick Swayze's autobiography last year.
This is a feel good film that had me laughing at various points during the film. For a start, you get to see the trasformation of Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes as their characters glam themselves up at the beginning of the film, and they actually look pretty good in dresses, especially Wesley Snipes! Who'd have thought it?! The beginning of the film is the only time you'll see them as men.
Voice-wise, the actors have obviously put on softer voices (as they're playing "ladies") and it is done well. Vida Boheme, in particular, is a classy drag queen (as shown in the way he/she dresses) and this comes across well in the way that Patrick Swayze speaks and conducts the character. We do get to hear Swayze's real voice at one point in the film when he shouts "Get your hand off my DICK, buddy!" after a sherriff tries it on with Vida.
All three men seemed very comfortable in the roles and had them down to a T. In fact, not far into the film, I'd pretty much forgotten I was watching Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo in drag as they pulled it off so well. I would have never have chosen Swayze or Snipes to act in a film about drag queens (in fact, I've never taken much notice of Snipes, other than seeing him in action films), however this film was cast perfectly and just goes to show how good actors they are.
You may be wondering what the title of the film has to do with anything... Well, early on in the film Vida spots an autographed picture on the wall of a restaurant which reads "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar" and she decides that she must have it. The autographed picture then goes on the journey with them as inspiration. In fact, Julie Newmar (famous for her role as Catwoman in the Batman TV series) even makes a brief appearance (as herself) in the film.
Other people who appear in the film include Robin Williams, Stockard Channing, Chris Penn (as Sherriff Dullard), Naomi Campbell, Quentin Crisp and RuPaul.
The soundtrack includes classics (and very appropriate songs) such as 'Free Yourself' by Chaka Khan, 'She's A Lady' by Tom Jones and 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper.
As I'm sure you'll have guessed by now, this is one film that I definitely recommend! It's a PG rated film, so almost anyone can watch it, though I don't think kids will be too interested in it. However, this is certainly a film I'll be watching time & time again.
As I write this, Amazon are currently selling this DVD including a deleted scenes extra) for £3.99 - A bargain!