As two wannabe dinner theater stars, Connie (Vardalos) and Carla (Collette) are stuck in a Midwest airport lounge running through hits from “Evita” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” After witnessing a mob hit on their boss, the two bolt out of town, heading for the one place that doesn’t know a thing about culture: Los Angeles. Their quest for employment leads them to a cabaret for drag queens. Looking to elude the killers, the duo pose as men posing as queens and score a job. Soon enough, Connie and Carla’s act becomes the toast of the town, complicating their lives even further with all the attention.
If “Connie and Carla” sounds a little familiar, that’s because it’s almost a full-on remake of the 1959 comedy classic, “Some Like It Hot.” Now, before the lawyers get involved, writer/star Vardalos keeps the atmosphere fluffy and the comedy screwball for the most part, which pays lovely tribute to Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s creation. Creative bankruptcyr Sure. But “Connie and Carla” delivers the laughs and the charisma with undeniable ease.
If she didn’t drop her goblet of superstardom with the rancid, unpardonable “My Big Fat Greek Life” television show last year, more heat would be on Vardalos to equal the success of her runaway sleeper box office smash. “Connie” is the dreaded follow-up film, and much to my surprise, Vardalos isn’t just a one hit wonder. “Connie” is a sillyfest that captures the dying spirit of farcical comedy without losing itself in the process. Vardalos writes very big, which complements her performance, which gets even bigger at times during the film. I really enjoyed the manic spirit the film seems to achieve about every 15 minutes as well. Vardalos does get bogged down in trying to grow a heart, tossing in an amateur night “tolerance” message that seems out of her league of writing. But she regains composure quickly with Connie and Carla’s musical numbers, and the placement of an excellent cocaine gag, which hasn’t been funny in film for decades now.
Co-star Collette makes a perfect pair with Vardalos, and is afforded an opening to show off her considerable pipes, along with her co-star. Collette is a chameleon, and it’s fabulous to watch her vamp it up as a queen, complete with gaudy make-up and a faux husky voice. Co-star David Duchovny is also a welcome presence, saddled with the lowly “I’m the audience” role as the nervous brother of one of the cabaret backup singers (as well as Vardalos’s improbable love interest), but finding unique dry wit Duchovny-isms to play and score laughs with. He’s a hoot.
The good times in “Connie” extend to a special Hollywood legend guest star, and to a grand finale of slapstick between the thugs and the queens. Even if she commits grand-theft-movie, Vardalos also showcases a colorful comic attitude, welcome in the age of irony.Rating: B