Yes, Queen! – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

It’s a roadshow.  So this is about two drag queens and a transgender, getting in a tour bus and traveling across the Australian desert to put on a very special show.  After watching Thelma & Louise, the unofficial anthem movie for lesbians everywhere (or so I’m told), my wife and I decided to keep the LGBT theme going this month while working our way through the 1,001 list.  I had never seen this before, but I was well aware of its notoriety.  Given the subject matter, I can say that there’s really not much out there that is like Priscilla, short of maybe RuPaul’s Drag Race.

busAnd to think, this whole time I thought Priscilla was the name of a queen, when it’s actually the name of the bus.

This movie is going to drastically change the way that I look at a number of featured actors going forward.  Memento is my second favorite movie of all time, and I’m going to have to try to blur my eyes the next time I watch it so as to not see Guy Pearce as a sassy queen.  Even with The Matrix, one of the most stylish, sleekest films ever shot, I’m going to have a lot of difficulty not seeing a flamboyant wig and a flashy dress on Agent Smith instead of the classic black suit.  It doesn’t really change anything about how I ultimately feel about it, but this film is nevertheless an occupational hazard for a film enthusiast who is trying to watch every single must-see movie.  Pearce is really funny in this role, and Stamp plays a really convincing woman, which makes sense, given that his character is the only one to have gone through with an operation.

queensGeneral Zod, nooooo.

I’m not sure how apt this comparison is, but I enjoyed this film the same way I enjoyed Magic Mike.  As a heterosexual male, there’s only so much for me in either one of these films, but there is a lot to be said for showmanship, and watching somebody go out and lay everything on the line is something I can at the very least appreciate and have fun with.  This is very much so a road trip movie, which isn’t typically my type of story.  There is more going on for Priscilla in that it actually has a point and there is a lot of self-discovery, but this film is unable to sidestep one of the biggest problems with the road trip movie in that it is light on plot, and so much of the story progression hinges on the introduction of brand new characters from scene to scene.  What makes this film quality is the progressive forward thinking that was pretty uncommon back in 1994.  Watching how people react to these three really lets you know what it feels like to be discriminated against, but it never gets too heavy and strives to be a mostly fun time.  You will likely have a good time with these loud costumes and characters unless you’re closed minded or insecure about your sexuality.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire


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