Complications of passing as a different gender are prominent in Shakespeare’s comedies, in which there was the further complication that the female characters masquerading as males were played by male actors. Connie (Nia Vardalos) and Carla (Tonni Colette) in “Connie and Carla” are more directly derived from the musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon who witness the St. Valentine’s Massacre in Chicago and flee to Florida in drag in “Some Like It Hot.” In both movies, maintaining the disguise is difficult, but it is Feelings developing for the person who doesn’t know that the musicians (singers in the case of Connie and Carla) are masquerading that are focused upon.
Connie and Carla are never out of female drag, so don’t have the problem of seeming credible as a man who is a drag performer that Julie Andrews had in “Victor, Victoria” or Hilary Swank had in “Boys Don’t Cry.” That is, they don’t really have to pass as men, only as drag queens – who live as women offstage as well as on.
In effect, Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) has the Tony Curtis role and David Duchovny has the Marilyn Monroe one – or Vardalos has the Julie Andrews one and Duchovny has the James Garner one.
And the murder witnesses reject Florida as too obvious a place to flee and end up in southern California (where the Florida of “Some Like It Hot” was actually shot). To be more precise, they end up in “Boystown,” West Los Angeles. I didn’t realize that there are drag shows in West Hollywood, but apparently there are (at least one night a week), and show tune bars, and karaoke bars.
I don’t recall seeing any drag queens the few times I’ve been in West Hollywood.( “Butch drag” is far more prevalent, but I wasn’t really looking.) Connie and Carla are free to talk dirty and exaggerate strutting their stuff and have their first taste of success.
West Hollywood has been a good place in which to flee from the drug lord, Rudy (Robert John Burke), who wants to find and kill them, because, as they expect, he has his goon Tibor (Boris McGiver) looking for them first on Broadway, then in dinner theaters. Tibor sees so many productions of “Mame” that by the time he gets to Kansas, he is the only audience member who knows all the words of the title song.
The Connie and Carla act is too successful for their own good. Well, it is for the good of their egos, though it makes them a little crazy that their success depends on them being perceived as female impersonators, but not good for their surviving by being invisible master plan.
A major sideplot involves Jeff (Duchovny) having found his long-lost brother Robert (Stephen Spinella) who likes wearing dresses and is half of an act called “Peaches ‘n’ Cream” – Spinella plays “Peaches,” Alec Mapa plays “‘n’ Cream.” Jeff is trying to overcome his aversion to drag queens to reconnect with the brother whom he last saw when he was twelve, at the same time as Jeff is being confused by his attraction to Connie.
Carla gets less screen time. The movie is pretty silly, though, like “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” makes a pitch for acceptance of gender variance. Plus it has a surprise special appearance to liven up the show that opens the expanded Stanley’s Place.
I was in the mood for some froth and wanted to see Alec Mapa in a movie Mapa’s pretty stereotyped role and a large extent of the movie being set in a show-tunes bar, which to me is only one step up from karaoke bars. I can’t give the good-hearted movie more than 3 of a possible 5 stars primarily because there’s no chemistry between Duchovny and Vardalos.