The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Movie review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Movie Poster Image
Drag queens drive funny, tender, but mature musical.
  • R
  • 1994
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 husb... Continue reading
Parent of a 3 and 12 year old Written byMokkadaddy July 24, 2016

Key movie for introducing LGBTI-Themes

I watched Priscilla as a twentysomething when it came out in 1994 and it has helped build my insight and understanding into gay and transgender themes. I had s... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bywicked_njo July 17, 2014

Hilarious!

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. Sooo... Continue reading

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)?

Movie details

For kids who love quirky characters

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