Yeah, that about sums it up.
"That's just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock."
This movie stars Hugo Weaving
, Guy Pearce
, and Terence Stamp
as a spectacularly camp trio of drag performers who travel across Australia in a converted school bus named "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". Hugo Weaving plays Anthony "Tick" Belrose, a.k.a. Mitzi Del Bra. Guy Pearce plays Adam Whitely, a.k.a. Felicia Jollygoodfellow. Terence Stamp plays Bernadette Bassenger, birth name Ralph.
In the wake of Bernadette's husband's death, Tick agrees to do a drag gig for his estranged wife in Alice Springs, bringing Bernadette and Adam along with him. Along the way they crack stereotypically cutting jokes, reveal secrets about themselves, drink themselves stupid, party with a camp of Aborigines in the desert, meet an Asian woman with interesting talents and pick up her repairman husband Bob for the ride, experience intolerance and danger from violent locals, and, of course, practice their drag show.
Provides Examples Of:
- Accidental Marriage: Bob married Cynthia, an Asian sex performer, when he was drunk and had no memory of having done so when he woke up the next day.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- Adam's teasing of Bernadette, calling her Ralph... until she finally snaps and beats him up.
- Incidentally, calling any transsexual by their birth name is definitely not advisable. Not only will you piss them off, you may well be putting them in danger. The More You Know.
- Agent Peacock
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: The stage musical.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Cynthia speaks Tagalog but her cassette tape has Japanese written on it...
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Adam is surprisingly attractive when he dresses as a woman without the over-the-top drag makeup.
- Australian Movies
- Bedouin Rescue Service: The Aboriginal camp.
- Berserk Button: Do not call Bernadette by her birth name of Ralph. Just don't.
- Brick Joke: When the trio launches Priscilla, their going-away party drowns out a ceremony announcing a girl who plans to run across Australia. The girl shows up twice later in the film, once just after the bus takes a short cut, and again when she runs right past the group and takes no notice of them.
- Burlesque: Cynthia. Ping pong balls are involved. (Let's leave it at that.)
- Camp Gay: Adam. And Tick as well, but much less so.
- Cast Full of Gay
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Adam threatening to sing.
- Costume Porn: The musical, which won a well-earned Laurence Olivier Award for Best Costume.
- The musical?! THE MOVIE! It won the Oscar for best costuming and the designer received her award in a dress she made out of her old American Express cards!◊
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon
- Deadpan Snarker: The above quote is just one of many of Bernadette's wonderfully bitter and snarky lines.
- Dirty Old Man: Adam's uncle in the flashback.
- Disappeared Dad: Tick.
- Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Subverted. Just the suggestion of Felicia being raped by a homophobic man is horrifying. Luckily, Bernadette saves him with the Groin Attack.
- Played with in a flashback, where Adam stops his uncle from molesting him by pulling out the drain. While the build-up isn't played for laughs at all and is appropriately disturbing the funny part is how Adam thwarts his uncle.
- Drag Queen
- Embarrassing First Name: Bernadette's given name is Ralph.
- Flashback Cut: Used at various points for the main trio's histories. Also for Bob.
- Flying Under the Gaydar: Tick tries to dress macho in Alice Springs in front of Benji, wearing a long-sleeved khaki shirt and a cowboy hat. Marion makes fun of him.
- Follow the Leader: To Wong Foo, which had none of the edge this film had.
- Freudian Excuse: Subverted with Adam. As the flashback progresses, it seems that Adam will be traumatized by his uncle tricking him into giving him a handjob as his uncle takes a bath...but instead of reaching under the water for his penis, Adam pulls the plug on the bathtub, sucking his uncle's balls into the drain. When the uncle tells him to get help, Adam just screams "No!" in his face.
- The Full Name Adventures
- Groin Attack: Not only funny, but one of Bernadette's many Crowning Moments of Awesome.
- The Hecate Drag Queens. Tick is the girl, Felicia is the mother, Bernadette is the crone.
- His and Hers: Upon learning that Tick is married, Adam says that he "would have bought you a lovely matching set of Hers and Hers bath mats."
- Impractically Fancy Outfit: And lots of them.
- The only Oscar the film won was for Costume Design, and the only Tony the musical won was for...Costume Design.
- It's Okay If It's You: Bob doesn't care if Bernadette is a transsexual - she's a lady in his eyes.
- Jerk Ass: Adam has her moments.
- Land Downunder
- Laughing Mad: Adam, running for his life from a pack of very pissed off hard men in Coober Pedy, laughs hysterically.
- No Bisexuals: Averted: Tick's wife Marion, and Tick himself to some extent (though he denies it).
- Nobody over 50 Is Gay: Averted in universe. Bernadette is obviously not that young, nor really is Mitzi. Hugo Weaving was only 34 when the movie was made, but male pattern baldness made him look considerably older.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bernadette is quite obviously based on transsexual former Les Girls performer Carlotta.
- Pimped-Out Dress: So. Many. Dresses.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown
- Popcultural Osmosis: For a film about three drag queens on a road trip through the Australian outback, this is a surprisingly well-known movie.
- Power Trio
- Scenery Porn: is full of it during the three protagonists' trip towards Alice Springs. Combines this and Costume Porn during the climb to Kings Canyon.
- Shout-Out: Hugo's prancing in a green dress as rescue arrives is said to be one to The Sound of Music on the director's commentary.
- Stage Names: "Mitzi Del Bra" and "Felicia Jollygoodfellow", obviously.
- Straight Gay: Tick falls somewhere between this and Camp Gay.
- Transsexual: Bernadette.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot
- Travel Montage: Used for comedic effect when Tick and Adam sing songs in a montage, only for it to be revealed at the end of it that they've only been traveling for four hours.
- Unlimited Wardrobe
- Wholesome Crossdresser: If you can call these three "Wholesome;" they're not Villainous Crossdressers, at least.
- Well two. Bernadette is a trans woman, therefore it's not really crossdressing.