To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (Universal) (1995)

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Released 11-Jun-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes-10
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 103:44
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Beeban Kidron
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Wesley Snipes
Patrick Swayze
John Leguizamo
Stockard Channing
Blythe Danner
Arliss Howard
Chris Penn
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Czech
Hungarian
Arabic
Romanian
Turkish
Greek
Czech Titling
Hungarian Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

This film, with an intriguing but somewhat unwieldy title, tends to be compared with another film with a very similar plot: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Critics (especially Australian ones) love to point out similarities in plot, except that Priscilla does it so much better, and in a less sentimental, hackneyed and clich-ridden way. However, I really enjoy To Wong Foo..., and don't necessarily think of it as being inferior to Priscilla.

Two drag queens, Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxzeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) jointly win the first prize in a local drag queen beauty contest in New York City - this wins them the cost of the travel expenses to Hollywood, California and back to allow them to participate in a national competition.

Another contestant, Chi Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) is devastated that she did not win. Taking pity on her, Vida convinces Noxzeema to let Chi Chi accompany them - by trading in the plane tickets for a used car. Through the help of a cameo appearance by Robin Williams, they obtain an old Cadillac convertible with more style than substance (which you just know will break down in the middle of nowhere).

On the way, the stop by at Vida's hometown, join a ladies' basketball convention, and have a very close encounter with a red-necked highway cop - Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn)! Then, as you would have guessed, the car breaks down and the queens are left stranded until they get rescued by a "knight in a shiny pickup truck" - innocent wide-eyed Bobby Ray (Jason London) who hails from the small town of Snydersville.

Unable to get spare parts for the Cadillac over the weekend, the trio are stranded in Snydersville over the weekend. Gradually, they get to know the inhabitants of the hamlet, but will the local folks ever find out that the three "career girls" from New York City are not quite what they seem? In turn, how will the trio affect the lives of the various people, including local hotel owner Carol Ann (Stockard Channing) who is being abused and beaten by her husband Virgil (Arliss Howard)?

Part of the film's charm (or irritation, depending on your point of view) is its relentless "wholesomeness." Indeed, apart from a minor plot detail (cross-dressing), this could have been a Doris Day film. It seems eager to preach a message of tolerance and goodwill: tolerance/acceptance of alternative lifestyles, racism, small town vs. big city prejudices, relationships between men and women, and even differences across the generation gap.

I'm sure some people went to see this film just to find out how (through the magic of film-making and lots of make-up) three rather butch and handsome actors look dressed up as women. I must admit, they look darned good - and of course the film helps by making the "real" women in the cast look as dowdy as possible.

Many critics have commented on how studiously the plot avoids any hint of sex on the part of the three main characters, to the point where the film got awarded a PG-13 rating in the US (PG in Australia). We are supposed to believe that three red-blooded drag queens go on a road trip and ... nothing happens, apart from a bit of coquettish flirting from Chi Chi. Instead, the three somehow turn into relentless do-gooders that transform the lives of those they come into contact with.

Then again, maybe the critics are just simply not reading the sub-text of the plot hard enough. After all, the film pretty much articulates what I suspect is a typical male cross dresser's fantasy - to be able to dress as a woman 100% of the time in public, to actually look beautiful and draw the attraction of passing males, and finally to be accepted by society.

There are some nice cameo appearances by real life drag queen RuPaul, supermodel Naomi Campbell, plus the real Julie Newmar.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer is in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film print.

I was pleasantly surprised by how vivid the colours look in this transfer. I looked for evidence of contrast enhancement and colour correction, but everything seemed quite natural.

The film print is also relatively clean. Detail levels are above average, although slightly marred by the presence of grain, especially in the latter half of the film.

Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum, and I did not notice any compression artefacts other than minor Gibb's effect ringing.

There are a number of subtitle tracks, including English for the Hearing Impaired, Czech, Hungarian, Arabic, Romanian, Turkish, and Greek. In addition, we get Czech and Hungarian Titling tracks. I turned on the English subtitle track briefly - it seemed to include transcriptions of Foley effects and background song lyrics. I did not notice any instances of dialogue attribution.

This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at the end of Chapter 13 in a fade to black between scenes around 68:00. It is completely unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

This film was one of the first few films released with a dts soundtrack. However, for the DVD release we get a Dolby Digital version instead. There are three audio tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

The English audio track, which I listened to, sounded okay, although it was nothing special. Dialogue was easy to understand, and background music was mostly kept to the background. I did not notice any audio synchronization issues.

The soundtrack seemed very front focused, and no matter how hard I strained my ears I detected no more than occasional murmurs coming from the rear speakers. Similarly, the subwoofer seemed to be fairly quiet throughout the film.

The soundtrack is predictably full of songs that relate to the theme of the film, including the theme from Wonder Woman, Stand By Your Man, Body Beautiful, She's A Lady, This Is A Man's World, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, ... I'm sure they had great fun choosing the songs to go with the film.

The original music score is by Rachel Portman and is vaguely orchestral.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The only real extra is a set of deleted scenes, but it's better than nothing.

Menu

All menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu is static but includes background audio. The deleted scenes submenu also includes background audio.

Deleted Scenes-10 (15:04)

There are ten deleted scenes, all presented in 1.85:1 letterboxed and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Subtitle tracks are also available. The quality of the transfer is about VHS quality, with garish, smeary colours and blurred details.

The scenes are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

I would rate both versions as basically equal.

Summary

This is the other drag queen movie, starring Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as a trio of drag queens on a road trip making an unscheduled stop at a small town.

The video transfer quality is good.

The audio transfer quality is average.

The only real extra is a set of deleted scenes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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