Two Movies to Avoid

The Thinker by Rodin

While I wait for inspiration to blog on more compelling topics, I can at least do the public a service by urging you to stay away from two spectacularly bad movies. Remember: you have been warned.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

I recently blogged about the movie To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995). This was a surprisingly amusing and well-done movie about three drag queens trying to drive cross-country to compete in a national drag queen contest. A year before this movie came out another Australian movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, also starring three drag queens on an adventure was foisted on the public. I doubt it was widely seen in the United States, thank goodness. In the case of this film, Priscilla is not one of the drag queens, but the name of a beat up bus that Bernadette, Mitzi and Felicia take across the Australian desert for a gig the city of Alice Springs in Australia’s remote Northern Territory.

If you were ever wondering what it would be like for Hugo Weaving (best known for his portrayal of Agent Smith in the three Matrix movies) to play a drag queen, this movie will satisfy your curiosity. Let me save you the trouble though and tell you: ridiculous. I would hasten to add that he undoubtedly makes the worst drag queen on the screen, except he is assisted by two other drag queens, one played by Terrance Stamp, who is even worse. The only drag queen that is passable in this movie is Felicia, played by Guy Pearce.

While Sydney apparently can tolerate drag queens, the folks in the heartland are a predictable bunch of homophobes. The exception may be a group of Aborigines they encounter in the latter half of the film. I like to think that these outbackers are not so much homophobes as people who cannot stand seeing three drag queens do such a miserable job of portraying drag queens. In To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, at least these gals looked like ladies. These three do not come close and Bernadette and Mitzi are frankly remarkably ugly drag queens. As in To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, their vehicle breaks down in an inconvenient spot and they have to try to get by with the locals. Since they break down literally in the middle of nowhere, mostly this means a lot of lizards. They eventually do make it to Alice Springs where we discover Mitzi has a wife and a son.

I am amazed we made it through the movie. I will confess that the sight of Felicia, propped on top of the bus as it moves through the desert, with a train tens of feet long flowing in the desert wind, was a spectacularly strange site and one my burning eyes would like to purge from my memory, but cannot. This is one drag queen movie (and there are not many) to not come within a dozen clicks of. Stay away!

Fool’s Gold (2008)

The airlines are truly in hard times when they put dreck like Fool’s Gold (2008) on as “entertainment” on a three and a half hour flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Denver International Airport, which was where I saw it. Tess (Kate Hudson) is married to Benjamin (Matthew McConaughey), a walking calamity of a husband who within the first five minutes of the movie manages to sink his wife’s boat while he explores underwater for treasure off the Bahamas. Apparently, Benjamin has only a few talents. One of them is making love and the other is finding (and ultimately losing) deep-sea treasure.

They end up getting divorced but fate of course keeps them together because while the boat sank Benjamin just happens to find a piece of treasure that suggests he and his now ex wife can find dozens of treasure chests hidden in or around the Bahaman island. To make ends meet, Tess works on a yacht serving food to a multimillionaire named Nigel played by Donald Sutherland. Nigel is the unfortunate father of an extremely attractive Valley Girl named Gemma (Alexis Dziena), who manages to be more annoying than McConaughey, which admittedly is a hard act to follow. Naturally, Benjamin, through many implausible scenarios, manages to convince Nigel to facilitate his treasure hunt.

The overacting and shallow stereotypes in this movie are excruciatingly difficult to endure. I know women swoon over McConaughey, but he is one of these pretty boy actors who basically cannot act. Here he serves merely to put eye candy on the screen for the women. This movie allows him to showcase all his stereotypes in all their gratuitous excessiveness. Perhaps he did “act” in the sense that he fit his stereotype to a tee. All the over the top acting, screaming and high pitched voices, as well as the transparent plot, made getting through it a real challenge. However, my flight was so long and so boring that I had little alternative. So I have watched it so you do not have to. Poor Donald Sutherland looks like he would rather be having a root canal. Frankly, I would have too. I hope he was paid well. The only fool’s gold here are the fools who pay to see this tripe. Don’t you be one of them. There are bad movies worth seeing for their badness. This is not one of them. It just reeks of mediocrity. If it arrives on HBO, change the channel. I don’t care how muscled McConaughey is or how much you may think Kate Hudson is cute and charming. Life is too short to squander it with trash like this. Yech.

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