The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
By Sierra Filucci,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Drag queens drive funny, tender, but mature musical.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The primary messages are about acceptance of oneself and others, as well as the benefits of friendship. A subtler message about shared humanity, including the need for love, affection, and companionship, runs through the film. The depictions of drag queens veer into stereotype territory often.
Positive Role Models
The main characters drink too much, curse too much, and are often cruel to each other. That said, they come through for each other in times of great need, and their strength despite adversity is touching.
Violence & Scariness
When Felicia baits a conservative country fellow, he reacts with anger and violence. He chases, corners, and encourages others to hold her down while he threatens her with violence. Later, Bernadette kicks the man in the groin. Brief scene of potential pedophilia turns into humorous revenge fantasy. Someone vandalizes the RV with a homophobic slur.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tons of graphic jokey innuendo with no actual sex. In one scene a woman does a provocative dance on a bar that includes putting ping pong balls into herself and then shooting them across the room, but nothing is shown on screen but reactions. The drag queens briefly show their butts in thongs.
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From beginning to end the characters use every curse word possible to joke, tease, hurt, and punctuate. Words include "f--k," "twat," "asshole," "s--t," and "Christ Almighty."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink excessively and without much consequence. One scene shows Bernadette challenging a local to a shots showdown, where the local ends up passing out. Felicia finds drugs in Bernadette's luggage and ends up in a dangerous situation, presumably after consuming the drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this funny drama about Australian drag queens contains tons of profanity and sexual innuendo. The cursing never stops, though it's not generally hostile, and includes everything you could imagine (from "f--k" to homophobic slurs). There is no sex or nudity, but plenty of crass and explicit talk about genitals, sex (both homo- and heterosexual), and some provocative dancing and clothing. The characters encounter homophobia, and the film includes one scene of intense threatening and moderate violence.
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Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
Priscilla- what a gem
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Why did you guys rate it R???
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What's the Story?
When drag queen Tick (Hugo Weaving) gets a call to perform in a small town, he collects two friends -- another drag queen (Guy Pearce) and a transsexual named Bernadette (Terence Stamp) -- to go along for the ride. They cross the Outback of Australia in a beat-up RV. Their outrageous clothing and behavior attracts plenty of attention -- both good and bad -- and they end up making a few friends and enemies along the way. When the RV breaks down, they meet a mechanic named Bob (Bill Hunter), who ends up riding along with them and getting close to Bernadette. Along the way, the friends learn that Tick plans to meet his secret wife at the destination, and after the arrival, everyone's in for a big surprise.
Is It Any Good?
This tender, sympathetic film includes some incredible acting, quirky characters, and gorgeous costumes (for which it won an Oscar). Terence Stamp portrays the transsexual Bernadette with strength and humanity, creating a film that goes deeper than the crinoline, makeup, and colorful musical numbers. Stamp and his costars ultimately tell a tale of acceptance -- of difference, of others, and of oneself. Some of the dialogue is particularly snippy and mean in a rather clichéd interpretation of gay male discourse, but the strengths of the film outweigh its weaknesses.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the main character's feelings about himself. Why do you think he was so anxious about going to Alice Springs? How did he change after he arrived? What lessons did others teach him about himself?
Talk about the trio's relationships with each other. Why do you think they were so mean to each other? How did that change over time?
Do you think this portrayal of homosexuals is positive or negative? Does it promote understanding or stereotypes (or both)?
- In theaters: August 10, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: March 28, 2000
- Cast: Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, Terence Stamp
- Director: Stephan Elliott
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sex-related situations and language
- Last updated: April 2, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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