While everything falls together a little too easily, this musical comedy about working through prejudice encourages empathy for and understanding of others. It makes heroes of both "sides" (the LGBTQ+ community and Southern Evangelical Christians) while also nudging each about where they could do better. Having a sympathetic main character who's been part of the Religious Right is notable: Hollywood can't create a world of equal inclusivity if it excludes a significant portion of the population. That said, for a woman who didn't maintain contact with Rickey because of her disapproval of his identity, Maybelline turns around pretty quickly to embrace and mother his friends, partner, and colleagues. Similarly, they quite speedily create a cozy relationship with her. It's all a little pat, but aside from that nagging bit of convenience, the film is heartwarming, funny, and entertaining.
The success of the film rests on Weaver's capable shoulders, and she proves once again that she's a phenomenal acting talent. As Maybelline, she creates a character who's gentle and caring, awakening to who she's been and the grave mistake she's made. Weaver's comedy chops are sharp, and she's perfectly paired with co-star Lucy Liu, who turns comedic dialogue into barbed wire laughs. The same can't be said for Adrian Grenier, alas, from whom nothing rings true. He plays Nathan, Rickey's life partner, who runs the business side of their operation. For Grenier, the role is the opportunity to break out of his womanizing Entourage character, but instead he just demonstrates his lack of acting chops. On the other hand, his character is the only one who totally avoids stereotypes. The drag shows have dazzling costumes and fun music -- when the finale hits, it's the kind of over-the-top moment you might expect, with an emotional impact you won't.