Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 159: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) - Rank 4/5


There's no doubt about it, this is a film that's often absurd for the sake of being absurd, and that's fine by me. The film takes three of the screen's biggest, modern badasses and put them in drag and on the road. Two of these actors were relatively unknown at the time - Guy Pearce (Badass roles: "Memento," "Ravenous," "L.A. Confidential," etc) and Hugo Weaving (a man who will be forever remembered as Agent Smith from the Matrix trilogy). The oldest of the three queens is a transsexual played by Terence Stamp, who kicked Superman's ass as General Zod and who terrified the shit out of Peter Fonda and his whole crew in "The Limey." While Weaving and Pearce sink into their roles with zealous glee, there's no hint of a lisp or merriment to Stamp's tone. It's simply Terence Stamp in a wig and women's clothes acting like a subdued Terence Stamp, and as a result I was laughing practically anytime he said a line due to the surreal nature of it all.

At its core, the film is a raod trip flick, in the vein of "The Muppet Movie" or "National Lampoon's Vacation," but with three cabaret dancers on their way to a gig. Tick is the one who arranged the venture because he wishes to see his estranged wife (who runs the casino) and *gasp* his son. Bernadette (Stamp) comes along for the journey because she wishes to get her mind off the recent death of her lover. And Felicia (Pearce) tags along for the sake of having a good time. Together the three perform in the middle of teh desert with a group of nomadic Aborigines, are upstaged by a Korean mail-bride that can fire ping pong balls out of her genitalia and they even hike in heels and full show garb to one of the highest points in the outback.

The film is not all laughs, because not all of the residents of Australia are tolerant of the lifestyles that the three have chosen. Their tour bus is coated in derisive graffiti and Felicia is nearly killed when jumped by a group of drunken rednecks. So a mild commentary on homophobia is incorporated into the plot, but it's never obtrusive. Humorously enough, the trio are never truly taken aback by the negative reactions they receive. In fact, they perform to more tepid or unwelcoming crowds in their travels than they do appreciative masses, and you begin to wonder why they even keep at their jobs. But, the story presents no explanation of their motivations, you simply have to accept them as they are, and only in giving up the desire to keep asking "Why?" can you truly relax and enjoy the film.

Watch the Trailer

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