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Connie and Carla
2004 - PG-13 - 98 Mins.
Director: Michael Lembeck
Producer: Gary Barber
Written By: Nia Vardalos
Starring: Nia Vardalos, Toni Collette, David Cuchovny
Review by: Joe Rickey
A rather unassuming and quirky cross-dressing comedy in the vein of ‘Some Like It Hot’, ‘Connie and Carla’ is an intermittently hilarious vehicle for Nia Vardalos (Who also wrote the screenplay), the star of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ Her screenplay concerns a pair of Chicago lounge singers (Vardalos and Toni Collette, ‘The Hours’ and ‘About a Boy) who become unwitting corroborators to a mafia hit. As a result, they flee the city for Los Angeles, where they assume the identities of drag queens who incidentally, sing at a gay nightclub. Much in the way of gender-equality barbs and old-fashioned “Hollywood is going to teach the audience a lesson” ensue.

‘Connie Carla’ starts off presenting humor that hits it mark more often than not. Sure, it is composed of mostly slapstick but the occasional glib remark about LA and Hollywood are timely and rather comical, such as a scene in which the two leads take a bus tour of Hollywood that ends with multiple potshots at the cherished life of a celebrity that are funny in a snide and dark-humored sort of way. The film also is able to get by for a while, anyway, on the genial likeability of its cast of characters. That is, until the leads start dressing drag. It is here that the film becomes an almost plotless mess.

You see, once Vardalos and Collette go in-disguise the film introduces a variety of quickly tiresome running gags such as a phrase often said by Collette in which she calls everything “A real drag, pun intended.” Then there is the hitman searching for the two women at dinner theatres across the country that begins to take a liking to the saccharine show tunes often sung at such events. These jokes are maybe a little humorous at first but they are painful by the time the film has utilized them for the sixth or seventh time. That’s not to mention the shapeless stereotypes of gay people that the film purports on the audience. The film makes these characters more like caricatures than real personas and is likely to offend all audience members, gay and straight alike. The film also devolves into a series of musical sequences at the gay club; leaving the majority of the plot for the final twenty minutes.

The film’s actors too take a dive once the film switches to LA. Vardalos, as mentioned earlier, comes across as a likable person at first but once she and Collette start dressing drag, they both become increasingly whiny and babyish individuals who grate on one’s nerves worse than any amount of fingernails on a chalkboard could accomplish. In a supporting role, David Duchovny (‘X-Files’, ‘Return to Me’) perhaps fares the best of all because he has limited screen time and therefore isn’t subjected to as much of the increasingly amateurish screenplay concocted by Vardalos.

Complete with an entirely predictable ending, ‘Connie and Carla’ at first seems like it is going to present itself a little outside the mainstream but this feeling is only fleeting as it becomes clear shortly that the film is going to stay within the confines of most romantic comedies; further hurting itself by becoming a stereotypical and formless cliché of a film in all areas.

Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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