Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Acquired Taste: Girls Will Be Girls
Anyone watching Everyone’s Talking About Jamie this weekend and craving a bit more drag, look no further than this very campy, very weird comedy from back in 2003. Girls Will Be Girls borrows from 1950s melodrama and 1960s schlock to tell the tongue-in-cheek story of Evie (Jack Plotnick), an aging Z-Grade “celebrity” known for her low rent TV appearances. Miraculously, she can afford a home in Los Angeles with Coco (Clinton Leupp), an old maid and one of Evie’s last friends. The arrival of Varla (Jeffery Roberson), a new roommate, sends Evie into a tailspin as she fears her career may be over, as Varla’s youth, looks and idealism set her off on a trajectory to become a Hollywood star.
If the names of the queens sound familiar, there’s a good reason why: Plotnick, Leupp and Roberson are often better known as their stage drag personas: Evie Harris, Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman. Here, they bring their wacky, bitchy brand of humor to the screen with the same level of gusto and commitment. We chalk that up to a simple fact: all three are more than drag performers–they’re real actors. That holds especially true of Plotnick, whose long filmography speaks for itself, and who approaches Evie as a real character rather than a schticky affectation. For all her absurdity, Plotnick treats Evie as a real person rather than a caricature.
We admit that the high-camp and often crude humor of Girls Will Be Girls probably isn’t for everyone. That aside, Plotnick, Roberson and Leupp work as hard as any actors we can think of, and with a supporting cast that includes Sam Pancake, comedian Dana Gould and a pre-Modern Family Eric Stonestreet, Girls Will Be Girls has plenty of talent on display. For those that can get on board with its brand of camp and nostalgia, watching should be anything but a drag.
Streams on Vudu & YouTube.