The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Movie Poster Image

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Drag queens drive funny, tender, but mature musical.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


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."

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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)?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 10, 1994
DVD/Streaming release date:March 28, 2000
Cast:Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, Terence Stamp
Director:Stephan Elliott
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sex-related situations and language

This review of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byhamstergurl09 July 6, 2011

Brilliant Movie;Not For Kids

This is a great movie! It's absolutely hilarious and has positive messages. There are ton of funny and quoteable lines. The acting is superb. I felt like I knew these characters in real life, and really cared about them. I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie; I really wanted to find out what happened next. I just saw this movie and I'm 14 (I know my profile says 17, that was a mistake). Words of warning: there is constant swearing. The characters encounter a lot of homophobia, but deal with it. For example, somebody spraypaints "AIDS f***ers go home!" on their bus, so they paint over it. There's one scene where men are threatening one of the drag queens, and the transsexual fights one of the men, which causes the others to disperse. There is also a scene where a woman shoots ping pong balls out of, you know, but it only shows the audience's reactions. Overall, fantastic movie, but not for children.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written bywicked_njo July 17, 2014


I saw it when I was 10 because the cover made me laugh. Though I didn't get most jokes, looking back, it really isn't for anyone at ALL under 12. Sooooommmee mature 12 and 13 year olds can handle it and most 14 year olds can. But its really funny and a great movie for older teens and adults.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 4, 8, and 13 year old Written bycalvonni March 25, 2011
I saw this movie so long ago (16 years ago) and loved it. When my teen asked to see it I went to Common Sense Media. The review refreshed my memory, and my husband and I decided to let her wait a couple of years.