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flick pick | The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994
Directed + written by: Stephan Elliott
Starring: Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama, comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: camp-o-riffic, whimsical
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis When three Sydney-ites head off from the city and out to the middle of the rough-and-tumble Australian outback, it's a case of the fish being way, way out of the water -- all the more so because the travelers include two drag queens, Tick/Mitzi and Adam/Felicia, and an aging transsexual named Bernadette, whose chosen mode of travel is a dilapidated pink bus by the name of Priscilla. At the invitation of his ex, Tick's been invited to perform his drag show at a big hotel in Alice Springs; the real motivation for the trip, however, is a chance to reunite with the young son he fathered with his ex. It's a thought that still has him reeling as he worries whether a guy who spends his evenings lip-syncing to Abba in glitter eyeshadow and sparkly evening gowns can be a proper dad to a little boy. Haughty Bernadette, meanwhile, has recently lost the man she loved, and is deep in mourning and feeling old and alone, all of which have combined to make her cranky as hell. So neither Tick nor Bernadette is feeling particularly up to dealing with Felicia, whose insistence on being 100% outrageous 100% of the time is more than a little trying. As the fabulous trio head deeper and deeper into the stark desert, claws come out and diva behavior inevitably ensues, with Priscilla the bus giving them a fair run for their money as the most temperamental queen of them all.

Review The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is possibly one of my favorite road movies of all time. It makes me laugh, it makes me feel, it makes me want to pack my bags and grab a map, jump into a car with a couple of good friends and take off on the wide open road (with a suitcase full of my most fabulous ensembles, natch). Like its three main characters, the movie puts on an infectiously appealing show of being bigger than life, introducing us to hilariously over-the-top characters, dropping zingy (and bawdy) one-lingers left and right, and dumping the traveling trio into one crazy situation after another. In short, it's just so, so fun. Still, for all its obvious love for camp and kitsch, Priscilla never turns its characters into a joke. Writer-director Stephan Elliott drops these great little moments of real world seriousness and straight-laced sincerity into the zaniness, revealing the little vulnerabilities Tick, Felicia and Bernadette hide beneath the outrageous costumes and screw-the-intolerant-jerks attitudes, without letting the movie degenerate into sappy sentimentality. The three starring actors completely disappear into their roles. You hardly recognize Hugo Weaving -- aka Agent Smith from The Matrix and Elrond the Elf King from Lord of the Rings -- as Tick/Mitzi, or Guy Pearce -- the dude from Memento -- as Felicia. And Terence Stamp (The Limey) as Bernadette just steals the show, moving ever so elegantly and delivering snarky barbs with the most deliciously icy glare. Like the strikingly barren desert landscape in which the movie is set, Tick, Felicia and Bernadette might not be conventionally pretty to look at, but they have their own strange beauty, and it's impossible not to fall in love with them as we join them on their travels.—reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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