Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Connie and Carla

Posted By on Wed, Apr 28, 2004 at 12:00 AM

I’m a movie geek, and to me there is nothing better than watching an independent filmmaker kick some big-budget blockbuster ass. Nia Vardalos’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding might be the best example of a filmmaker who came out of nowhere with a film that took practically nothing to make and yet hit a serious grand slam. Of course, with the underdog’s follow-up film there’s pressure to deliver, lest the film world think you a) just got lucky once, or b) are a sellout.

You might not see “sellout” or “not as good as her first,” attached in big print to Vardalos’ Connie and Carla, but it could easily be said of the light comedy, “been there, done that.”

Credit should be given to Vardalos, who, like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, writes and stars in Connie and Carla. Unlike Wedding, which was based on Vardalos’ life, this outing is purely fiction (unless Vardalos was actually chased by mobsters and tried to hide out as a drag queen).

Vardalos and co-star Toni Collette make great women-pretending-to-be-men-pretending-to-be-women, but even that can’t glue this flimsy film together. It’s a hodgepodge of references to very famous movies, such as Some Like It Hot, The Bird Cage, and most obviously Victor/Victoria. While the chemistry between Vardalos and Collette is right on, the connection between Vardalos and her love interest, David Duchovny, is lacking.

For starters, Duchovny’s character thinks Vardalos is a man. Oddly, though the Duchovny lead is supposed to be straight, he’s got a thing for this he/she, and gives her goo-goo eyes throughout the film. When “he” finds out the “he/she” of his delight is actually a “she/she,” he makes out with her on the spot, no questions asked, no boobies required to be shown as proof. It’s pretty unrealistic behavior for a straight guy.

And while it’s nice to see women who aren’t anorexic and who are proud of their bodies and eat junk food, it’s almost a too-obvious “Beverly Hillbillies” thing, poking a finger at Hollywood as if to say, “Hey, I’m big, I’m fat, I’m Greek and I’m OK” … wait, that sounds familiar.

Entertainment-wise, the drag shows offer some good stuff, but there are way too many songs. Debbie Reynolds, who might be catching up to Judy Garland, plays a fabulous cameo role. I only wish we could have seen her sing “Tammy” with Vardalos and Collette.

Connie and Carla might be a waste of an $8 movie ticket, but it has some good humor. Even though many of the jokes seem done before, they’re still funny, maybe because I couldn’t remember exactly where I heard the joke before or what the punch line was.

I really wanted to praise Vardalos’ film. But, unfortunately, everything this film is trying to do has been done before.

Gina Pasfield is an editorial intern at Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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