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Connie and Carla

2006-03-30 12:57


The plot of "Connie and Carla" is a classic - literally. It's pretty much the same plot as that of the brilliant "Some Like it Hot" (1959) with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, which in turn was based on various Shakespeare plays. In "Some Like it Hot" two male musicians witness a mob shooting and flee disguised as woman. In "Connie and Carla" it's two female singers who are on the run from the mob, and they wind up impersonating drag queens - in other words they disguise themselves as men disguised as women. Anyhow, the girls end up in LA, which has "no culture" (meaning no dinner theatres) because they're sure it's last place the gangsters would look for them. Unfortunately for them, their need to remain in disguise soon conflicts with their romantic entanglements and their booming career.


How could "Connie and Carla" be a bad movie?

It stars fairly good big name actors. They've all appeared in passable movies - Toni Collette (Murial's Wedding), Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and David Duchovny (er...The X-Files). And getting Debbie Reynolds to play herself to a crowd of applauding queens should have made it a cult classic - people love that stuff.

But from the word go the movie overplays its hand. Rather than being a charming and funny romp with great twists and turns, it degenerates into an embarrassingly amateurish farce full of hackneyed lines, annoying screeching, hysterical flapping and staged moments you can SO see coming.

The dialogue is stilted, and the characters are hard to like. The girls behave like they're on one long, noisy hen night. The basic message, which could have been 'isn't life fun, doesn't love matter the most, and hey, we're all the same inside' instead turns out to be 'It's OK to wallow in the past singing other people's songs, wear too much make up, be really overweight and have huge hair.' And it is ok to do all those things, but who the hell cares? It's not worth making into a multi-million dollar movie.

The only truly nuanced or sincere acting performance - Stephen Spinella as Jeff's brother Robert (aka Peaches) - is drowned out in the useless clutter and stereotyping, like the scene when the girls' new apartment is redecorated as soon as the gay cross dressers see it. Because we all know, that's what gays do, right? They just twitter and decorate!

Perhaps if you are very homophobic you'll enjoy this embarrassing romp. It might be hilarious to a closeted hetero audience. (You know, the type who think a man dressing up as a woman, or a woman dressing up as a drag queen is funny in itself)

For anyone with half a brain cell, any ending to the torture would have been a good one. One more open mouthed over the top gape from Toni Collette, one more gravely voiced pseudo seductive question from David Duchovny, one more brassy little girl lost line from Vardalos and bad things were going to happen to someone.

But then the ending showed promise, cruelly keeping the unwitting audience glued to their seats, vainly hoping for a killer ironic twist.

Yes, when the Russian mobsters arrive seeking revenge and threaten the actors with a gun, the film fleetingly develops some entertainment value. But tragically, nobody gets shot to death. In fact, more torture lies in wait in the implausible final scenes. Duchovny ends up snogging Vardalos, bathed in yellow light, and Toni Collette reunites with the same old dufus boyfriend who led the mobsters to them... Jeez, hope that doesn't ruin the film for you!

"What was writer and star Nia Vardalos thinking?" you may ask yourself. The answer, apparently, is: "She wasn't".

- By Jean Barker

"Connie and Carla" tries to be charming, but instead ends up being more grotesque, like a primary school play dressed up as adult entertainment. It's the kind of film that actually puts you off the actors that appear in it, even if you've been their fan for years.

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