To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

Critics Consensus

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar seeks to celebrate individuality, but is too timid and predictable to achieve its admittedly noble aims.

39%

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Total Count: 38

71%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 50,676

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Movie Info

Elite Manhattan drag queens Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) impress regional judges in competition, securing berths in the Nationals in Los Angeles. When the two meet pathetic drag novice Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Alberto Leguizamo) -- one of the losers that evening -- the charmed Vida and Noxeema agree to take the hopeless youngster under their joined wing. Soon the three set off on a madcap road trip across America and struggle to make it to Los Angeles in time.

Cast & Crew

Wesley Snipes
Miss Noxeema Jackson
Patrick Swayze
Miss Vida Boheme (Eugene)
John Leguizamo
Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez
Chris Penn
Sheriff Dollard
Bruce Cohen
Executive Producer
Walter F. Parkes
Executive Producer
Rachel Portman
Original Music
Steve Mason
Cinematographer
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Critic Reviews for To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (23)

  • A politically correct comedy about drag queens? This is the American response to the superior Aussie flick Adventures of Priscilla. Macho Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo can't lift it above the routine.

    December 31, 2006 | Rating: C

    Emanuel Levy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Leguizamo's Chi Chi is the only one who looks anything like a drag queen, let alone a woman; yet we are asked to believe that it's Swayze's breathy Vida and Snipes' squealing Noxeema who've got their stocking seams straight.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Kidron's direction stays flat even when the actors are funny. It doesn't help that the screenplay, by Douglas Carter Beane, is so thin that one of its biggest events is the three main characters' having car trouble.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Imagine, "Wong Foo" suggests, a world where people stopped judging one another and simply surrendered to the silliness that's dormant inside us.

    June 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Screenwriter Douglas Carter Beane pilfers not just plot elements from "Priscilla," but also stirs in big chunks of "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Bagdad Cafe," "Auntie Mame," "The Music Man" and "Cinderella."

    January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

  • Mar 16, 2013
    Released one year after the Australian drag queen comedy 'Priscilla', Hollywood had taken notice of its popularity and as Hollywood does, it churns out a US version. Now this film isn't a remake of 'Priscilla' but quite clearly a leap on the drag queen bandwagon in hopes to hover up the new found success. The outcome? need I really tell you?? its obvious isn't it, a poor equivalent naturally. You see the thing is, the Aussie flick was original and had a heart, a soul, there was a good story inside that made you love and care for the characters. The very real sensitive issues weren't rammed in your face, plus the casting was excellent and didn't utilize big name stars (at the time...apart from Stamp). This glitzy US contender had none of that, the plot is as predictable as the rising sun. Two drag queens (and another that hitches along which they call their apprentice) go off on a road trip across the US to enter into a kind of national Miss Drag Queen contest in CA. Along the way they get stranded in a small male chauvinistic run town where...guess what! they manage to change the towns bigoted ways (the men) and help the women become more independent and free from their male overlords. Oh and they also assault a bigoted corrupt redneck police office type played perfectly by Chris Penn. He chases them through the film and displays the kind of prejudice you would expect whilst also begging the question, is his character in the closest perhaps?. So you have every sexist homophobic angle you can think of covered just to try and scrape together an interest with the right audience and get on their side. The whole plot is so contrived and phony, no soul here, just a money spinner. A typical Hollywood production that forces the ideas of female oppression in a male-dominated society and homophobia down your throat, so heavy and obvious its hokey. I think the main hook was just the fact that three big tough butch male stars (well two) are the drag queens. Normally in serious films or violent action films, Swayze and Snipes are the draw. Swayze actually does look quite elegant and beautiful as a wealthy looking middle aged female in 50's (I think) attire. Snipes doesn't fair quite so well frankly but Leguizamo as the third queen is again surprisingly cute looking, but bordering on slutty n easy which is his Latino character not my desires. So really the only thing here was the shock value of seeing two hard action heroes and a serious character actor play screaming queens, that's why they cast them I reckon. Although I must give Swayze his dues, he does play the part of a man struggling with his inner feelings well. The battle against his disapproving parents is briefly played on but overall Swayze definitely musters some tender moments. Apart from that there really is nothing else here to shout about, good morals maybe, but overdone. Had the Aussie film never existed then this would be looked upon as much more original and fresh instead of an average follow up. The soundtrack isn't in the same class as 'Priscilla', there are too many cheesy cameos, the plot is so artificial/mainstream/forced/laboured with an ending that rips off 'Spartacus' and of course overall, its just not as good as 'Priscilla'.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2013
    Its so clearly an Americanized version of "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" that I'm not surprised that it feels so watered down and unremarkable. This one just doesn't have the heart of that film. I do think Snipes, Swayze, and Leguizamo all do an alright job in these roles . . . not great performances but there's something to be said for the effort they put into giving these characters life. Oh and seriously, no one could think of a better title?
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 09, 2012
    Very silly. Cheesy. Awkward at times. But it was fun and touching. Snipes is quite possibly the worst choice they could have made for a woman, but he was funny. Leguizamo was oddly convincing in his role.
    Erin C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2011
    Maybe it's that I'm a little of a skeptic, but the fact that the story of "To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Nemar" has an incredibly unoriginal premise but manages to look so wasn't lost on me. Or the fact that despite the fact that for some of the subject matter exposed here, nothing quite serious was made of it. Nevertheless, I will say that from start to finish, the movie was fun, entertaining, and quite daring if for the presence of three macho actors effectively playing drag queens. Like I said, the premise of this movie has been done to death: highly different people come to a small town (by accident), see the problems there, and manage in the course of their stay to get townsfolk to get in touch with themselves. Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze), Noxema Jackson (Wesley Snipes), and Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) are heading to the Miss Drag Queen Pageant in L.A., getting lost and winding in a backwoods town where not only do they stumble upon Carol Ann (admirably played by Stockard Channing) who is being abused by her husband (in two particularly uncomfortable scenes, one played off-screen), but where Chi-Chi almost gets raped by the local roughnecks, seems like this should belong in something darker, not a comedy. The fact that on both occasions nothing is resolved (satisfactorily) points towards this movie's failure to step up to the plate, examine those issues, and make something truly revelatory. That what should have been a one-scene situation in which Vida Boheme whacks Sheriff Dollard unconscious is turned into a weak showdown in which neither of the drag queens comes out to make an appearance (like they would under similar circumstances; anyone who knows or has seen drag queens knows that they have little fear of cops or men in uniform and will knock them out easily) only makes matters more false: whether or not these townsfolk were latently ready to accept "change" it is highly unlikely that it would have been played out this way. Why would Dollard even want to arrest these men in drag? It makes little sense but to force the issue that the "people" will stand up for Those Who Are Different. (And that among those "people" are the same roughnecks, now wearing pink and read boas? Something is wrong here.) Also unsatisfactorily is the way ChiChi's budding relationship with the local guy (Jason London) is handled: why not have him know she is a he and by doing so, take a huge risk that would strike the point home? Maybe it's timing. America isn't ready for men in drag and the chance someone might see through the appearance of femininity a man may have and go with their instincts. To Wong Foo is a movie that should have tackled these premises more upfront. It should have given all three of these men an actual sex life, real personalities. The closest thing that happens to romance is some shy flirting from Bobby Ray (Jason London) towards Chi-Chi, but even that is left flat after much exposition. The same way nothing else is said of Vida's familial relationship: all we know is that there is an estrangement, but nothing else. And Noxema gets saddled with nothing else but to be there, say one-liners, and chat with an old lady about Hollywood. And this is also, precisely, what keeps it from being a richer movie which explores its characters instead of laying them out to pasture and later dressing them in boas and fancy dresses. To see a drag queen without her make up on is to see the man underneath; since we aren't given that chance here, this is drag-lite, in which all is at surface level, messages of love run rampant as house music plays in the background, and just as it started, it ends in a beauty parade. Still, kudos to Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo for stepping out of their shoes and donning pumps and wigs. All are great, in equal measure. Snipes manages to channel a lot of Missy Elliott while Swayze might as well have become Brini Maxwell with a red wig. Leguizamo, though, is my favorite. While playing a close rendition of Rosie Perez with a good deal of Jennifer Lopez, he gives his character a sweet dimension. These three are the ones who make this movie completely enjoyable despite these complaints that arise. In the end, To Wong Foo feels incomplete but because of the three leads and its message of love and acceptance, it mostly works. Story: C Acting: B+ Direction: C Visuals: B- Overall: C+ **1/2 out of 4 stars
    Matthew R Super Reviewer

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