The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Connie And Carla

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Judy Thorburn

Connie And Carla

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

LIFE'S A DRAG FOR CONNIE AND CARLA

The phrase “Queen for a day” takes on a whole new meaning for Connie and Carla in this hilarious new comedy from My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s writer and star Nia Vardalos who does double duty once again, this time alongside costar Oscar nominated actress Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense). For their characters, being a queen becomes a daily routine and a drag …literally.

The premise of characters hiding out from the Mob and assuming a new identity is nothing new. Not too long ago we saw Whoopi Goldberg get into the “habit” of playing a nun in Sister Act. Another popular plot device involves cross dressers or transvestites.  Movies such as the classic Some Like It Hot, to the more recent To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and The Bird Cage have storylines where boys dress as girls, and the actors seem to be having a grand old time in their gender bender roles.  In Victor, Victoria, Julie Andrews took on the role of a woman pretending to be a man playing a woman. That was a switch. Now, stretch that idea a bit further and you’ve got Connie and Carla working it to the hilt.

For Connie (Vardalos) and Carla (Collette), performing has been their thing.  Best friends since childhood in Chicago, they’ve dreamed of stardom as a song and dance duo.  But, the road to the big time only got them as far as O’Hare Airport’s Traveler’s Lounge, where the audience’s reactions to their over the top take on Broadway musical numbers were under whelming, if not uncaring, to say he least. Things take a turn when the girls witness the mob hit of their boss when a drug deal goes bad, and they are forced to run for their lives and “go somewhere they can blend in”. They wind up in West Hollywood, settle into an apartment over a local drag club and come up with a plan to insure that the thugs will never find them. That means taking on the personas of drag queens, as in exaggerated makeup, outrageous wigs, etc. in order to fit in as one of the performers in the cabaret style show at The Handle Bar drag club.  No surprise, Connie and Carla wind up being a smash hit and the hottest darlings of the gay club scene for the show tunes they’ve always delivered.   But, the snag comes when Carla is attracted to the cute, straight guy, Jeff (a walkthrough for David Duchovny) who she is continually bumping into. A subplot involves Jeff trying to make amends in the relationship with his estranged gay brother Robert, (Stephen Spinella) a drag queen friend of Connie and Carla. In any case, the problem is posed on how can Carla get the guy, when the guy thinks she is a he?  If that isn’t enough, mobster Rudy (Robert John Burke) has sent his Russian henchman Tibor (Boris McGiver) out on the road, checking out every show on the dinner theatre circuit throughout the country in hopes of tracking the two C’s.  He almost steals the film whenever the story bounces back to show Tibor’s reactions in his ongoing experience as he visits one musical dinner theatre after another.  Suffice it to say, it is a very funny running gag.

Of course, one has to suspend belief in order to really think that Connie and Carla would get away with their masquerade as genuine drag queens.  Under the entire “disguise” is too much telling curves and female details. For example, when performing with their backup chorus line of  “real” queens as “The Belles of the Balls” in their expanded dinner show, it is obvious who is really a she and who is not. But, this is what it is, and it is not to be taken seriously. What it IS, is a very funny, musical comedy starring two talented actresses who also get a chance to show off their great set of pipes by belting out some of the most popular songs from shows such as South Pacific, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Yentl, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name a few.  Vardalos is good in this part that she wrote for herself.  But, it is Collette that impressed me more. This actress moves easily from drama to comedy and now a musical where she proves she can sing, too. And you would never know she was Australian from that seamless American accent. Both these ladies have great chemistry, and shine in their stage duets.

Debbie Reynolds makes a cameo appearance as a fan, and to lend support in the closing number. I couldn’t help but think what is SHE doing here. I guess Vardalos settled on this “retro” diva, since they obviously couldn’t get Cher, Liza or Barbra, favorite female icons in gay culture.

Granted, you can expect stereotypes, but the blunders are minor and I enjoyed Connie and Carla for all its wackiness, slapstick and campy delivery, along with enormously entertaining musical numbers. It may be sappy, but a message about love, tolerance and being true to yourself never hurts, either. This musical comedy may be about drag queens, but one thing is for sure – Connie and Carla are a delight, and the fun never drags!