Connie And Carla Movie Review

In Connie and Carla, two women find that disguising themselves as male cross-dressers is the only way their show can draw an audience. The premise is strikingly similar to Victor/Victoria, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos as the singing and dancing lead character. Unlike its much better predecessor, C and C is a sluggish and unfunny mess where its gaiety gets lost in an unneeded, heavy-handed melodrama.

Ever since they were kids, best friends Connie (Vardalos) and Carla (Toni Collette) dreamed their two-woman show would take them places. When we first meet the duo, they're not performing in Chicago's dinner theaters; instead their venue is the dismal O'Hare Airport lounge, where they perform for sleeping travelers. After they witness the murder of their boss, by small time gangster Mr. Rudy (Robert John Burke), Connie and Carla pack their bags and escape to a "cultureless" place where Rudy can never find them: Los Angeles.

Desperate to find a gig, the unemployed Connie and Carla just happen to come across a gay bar where a new nightclub act is sorely needed (oh, how convenient). The pair tweak their Midwest images by piling on loads of makeup and donning their best big-hair wigs to better resemble the bar's cross-dressing clientele. Connie and Carla instantly land the job, and wow sold out crowds each night with their outrageous takes on showtunes from Evita and Cabaret to Oklahoma and South Pacific.

I wasn't so quickly wowed. Connie and Carla couldn't keep a crowd awake before they arrived in Los Angeles, but overnight they become a rousing success? It's plainly clear Connie and Carla look and sound too feminine to be believable cross-dressers (though they've both done the "ugly duckling" routine before -- Vardalos in Greek Wedding, Collette in Muriel's Wedding). When some of their bar friends arrive unexpectedly at their apartment, we're supposed to believe that the mud masks and avocado treatments they're wearing are supposed to hide the fact that they are actually women? We're smarter than this. I kept wondering why no one was calling them on it.

When Connie meets a local hottie named Jeff (David Duchovny), she wants nothing more than to jump out of costume to date him. Jeff, coincidentally enough, is the homophobic brother of one of Connie's new friends, Robert (Stephen Spinella). Unfortunately, Connie and Jeff have so little chemistry that their romance has no basis for believability. Their cat and mouse courtship slows C and C's pacing considerably. In fact, Jeff's character is really a useless element in this film - a superficial detour as he overcomes his homophobia - that severely distracts from the real fun: the music and dancing. Is it really necessary to introduce homophobia into every film dealing with gay culture today?

Vardalos and Collette seem to have a good time with their roles despite their shaky ability to carry a tune and a meager script that includes an obligatory final act appearance by Debbie Reynolds. Yet, I guess if they could sing like Julie Andrews did in Victor/Victoria, Connie and Carla wouldn't have the one and only thing it has going for it: silliness.

You can dance, you can jive.


Connie And Carla Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2004


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