Bam Bam And Celeste Movie Review
When we first meet Celeste (Cho), she's miserable in her '80s-era Illinois high school. As the only overweight Asian goth-punk in school, she's destined to feel like an outsider. Her only friend is the flamboyantly gay Bam Bam (Bruce Daniels), with whom she plans to make a great escape to the big city.
Flash forward 20 years, and the two (who haven't aged a bit) are still stuck in DeKalb, where Bam Bam is working as a hairdresser. When the two spot a reality makeover show on TV that's holding a contest to find new beauty talent, they see their chance. Trading Faces will be their ticket to New York. Sure enough, their application is accepted and away they go, with Celeste's Korean mother (also played by Cho and very familiar to her standup audiences) giving her warnings in her funny fractured English.
The drive to New York is filled with clashes with intolerant rednecks who can't see Celeste's inner beauty or Bam Bam's overall fabulousness. There's a blistering encounter with a violently racist convenience store worker (the motor-mouthed Danny Hoch) who really lets Celeste have it, and after a motel interlude, Bam Bam fails to see his lover (Wilson Cruz) chased off screen by a band of gay bashers. A happier encounter is with a lesbian cowgirl (the dependable Jane Lynch) who knows how to crack a whip. It's set piece after set piece, with no real flow at all.
Once in New York, Bam Bam and Celeste discover that their competition on the makeover show will be their old high school nemeses (Elaine Hendrix and Butch Klein), who now run the city's chicest and bitchiest hair salon. Quite the coincidence. The show's host (John Cho) is the smarmiest and bitchiest guy in town, but luckily, the show's producer (Alan Cumming) is far more kind.
The message here is the same one Cho has been preaching in her comedy shows for years: tolerance, inner beauty, diversity, et cetera. All noble sentiments for sure, but Cho neglects to wrap a good movie around them. A tip of the hat to Cho for organizing such a great crowd of cameo players, but that's about the only good thing you can say about this stalled-out journey.
Y'all gonna laugh!