A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar is a comedy road trip movie about three gay men who are drag-show performers and who also wear drag in everyday life. Sexual content includes some speculation about men having sex with men, a few brief kisses, some flirting, and mildly sexualized drag personas. The differences among "transvestite," "transsexual," and "drag queen" are explained. Domestic abuse is implied when a man throws a stew pot across the kitchen, his wife has a black eye and cries frequently, and sounds of violence like slamming furniture and shrieking are heard off-camera in another room. A sheriff tries to kiss and grope a man in drag, gets pushed to the ground, and is left for dead. Strong language isn't frequent but includes the "N" word, "spic," "d--k," and some profanity in Spanish that's not translated, like "pendeja" and "culo." A few scenes take place in bars, and one scene in a home shows wine drinking and drunken behavior. The three main characters are diverse and model strong bonds of friendship, loyalty, mentoring, and helping others. Positive messages are about accepting yourself, not worrying what other people think, and appreciating life's beautiful moments, even if they don't last long. Expect some stereotypes.
What's the story?
TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR tells of New York drag queens Vida (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema (Wesley Snipes), who've just won a trip to Hollywood and the national finals of a drag contest. They decide to take newcomer Chi-Chi (John Leguizamo) along for the ride and set out across the country in a giant yellow Cadillac that's all style and no horsepower. Somewhere around Pennsylvania the car dies, of course, stranding them in the small town of Snydersville. While they wait for the right Cadillac part to arrive, they find themselves entering the somewhat troubled lives of the townsfolk. With the Strawberry Festival coming up and an irate local sheriff on their heels, can they bring a bit of fabulous to this tired old town?
Is it any good?
This road trip comedy starring some of the '90s biggest action heroes in drag works best as a story about three friends who find answers for themselves by helping others. But don't look for a lot of campiness in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. The focus here is on the three main characters and their effect on each other and the world around them. And while there's some sexiness and some mild romance, it's refreshingly free of sexual relationships among the three friends and between them and the townspeople. They're much more interested in helping people and being good role models.
There are some storytelling gaps, and most of the movie is predictable. Some things wrap up too neatly, and some things, like Sheriff Dollard's storyline, are too much of a stretch. Still, it works well enough as a friendship tale, and teens will relate to the characters as they long both for acceptance and for a future that's as fabulous as they are.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar depicts homosexuality and drag performers. Are the main characters stereotypes, or do they seem like real people? What about the sheriff or the small-town residents of Snydersville?
Vida says she doesn't need her parents' approval but she will take their acceptance. What does she mean? What's the difference?
- In theaters: September 8, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: January 7, 2003
- Cast: Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing
- Director: Beeban Kidron
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: For subject matter involving men living in drag, a brief scene of spousal abuse, and some language.
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