Connie and Carla Review
All their lives Connie (Nia Vardalos) and Carla (Toni Collette) have wanted to be singers, but haven’t progressed much further than singing to bored air passengers waiting for their flights. However, one day they accidentally witness a mob shooting and have to run for their lives. With the gangsters on their trail, they flee to LA and hit on a perfect disguise – they pass themselves off as a pair of drag queens.
Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a huge surprise hit two years ago. That film was predictable and not especially brilliantly written, made or acted but it was enjoyable, going a long way on its writer/star’s sheer likeability. The same goes for her follow-up, Connie and Carla. In terms of plot it’s very much Some Like It Warmed Over. It doesn’t begin well: Connie and Carla shriek so much in the early stages that they seem like stereotypical drag queens before they even become them. You do have to suspend some disbelief in the central premise. But the film wins you over and you do end up on Connie and Carla’s side before the end. Collette and Duchovny are more experienced actors than Vardalos, and they both give pro but hardly groundbreaking performances, but Vardalos is the real star here. There’s something about her that the camera loves, which helps the film ride over a good few rockier patches. And it has a few: a scene where Jeff (David Duchovny), straight brother of drag queen Robert (Stephen Spinella), is confronted by his girlfriend, only for her to assume that Jeff is really gay and to call the drag queens “freaks”, plays like what’s left of a subplot otherwise on the cutting room floor, as the girlfriend isn’t mentioned previously and never seen again. As for the subplot where Jeff and Connie fall for each other despite him thinking she’s a gay man…well, I’ll let you work that one out for yourself. And given the subject matter, the film might have benefited from being sharper and raunchier in its wit. As it is, it’s a very straight film about drag, one aimed squarely at a family audience. It barely justifies its 12A certificate, which is for “drugs references”.
Connie and Carla certainly won’t change your life but it will entertain you for an hour and a half, if you let it. How well it will survive amongst bigger, flashier blockbusters, even as anti-football counterprogramming, remains to be seen.