Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS (2003)
Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
William D. Carl
This Week’s Feature Presentation:
GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS (2003)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk-til-dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes!
In film terms, ‘camp’ is defined as movie-making and acting which is deliberately exaggerated and theatrical in style, typically for humorous effect. This is usually found in an unintentional form, such as Bette Davis’s overwrought histrionics in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962); the utterly hilarious sexual hijinks in SHOWGIRLS (1995); or the terribly written, overacted VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1967). It’s much more difficult to create an intentionally camp movie. John Waters has pretty much perfected the camp medium, showcasing insane situations, arch acting styles, and colorful pop visuals to great effect. Other than Waters, it is hard to find a good intentionally camp comedy. That is, until GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS (2003), the campiest of the campy camps.
Seventies B-Movie actress Evie has fallen on hard times. Think of Joey Heatherton or Lola Falana. Ever since she drunkenly lost control of her car and plowed into a family of six, but only killing four (“Who has a picnic in their own backyard?”), she’s spiraled into a drug-fueled, alcohol-tinged, nymphomaniac, smoke-hazed nightmare. Studios won’t return her calls; her best friend/maid, Coco, is thinking about leaving her and having a baby; and her glass eye keeps rolling back into her head during sex. With the mortgage due, she accepts a young hopeful starlet as a third roommate, Varla Jean, right off the bus from Arkansas. Coco says, “I just hope she’s not too loud. Or happy. Happy people make such a racket.” Turns out, Varla Jean was the daughter of Marla Jean— star of a summer spin-off of C.P.O. Sharkey and Evie’s arch nemesis, who killed herself after not getting the lead role in Evie’s biggest movie, ASTEROID! (The ASTEROID! Scenes are hysterically dead-on for 70s disaster flicks, even to the line “Maybe I was so busy saving all the world’s children, that I forgot to be a woman.”) Varla quickly moves from prostitute to infomercial spokeswoman to commercial actress. Her rise to ‘stardom’ infuriates Evie. Varla even starts an affair with Evie’s tragically endowed, ambulance-chasing lawyer son, Stevie. Coco searches for her one true love, Dr. Perfect, the man who gave her an abortion when she was going to Vassar. Evie gets worse and worse as Varla’s success continues until she gets the lead in TARANTULATROPOLIS and Coco is raped while under morphine in the hospital. Evie decides to mortgage the house again to fund a musical revue television special starring herself. But, is it all a plot by Varla to wreak revenge on Evie, the woman who caused her mother’s suicide? It all culminates on the night of the musical revue and involves drugs, drugs, flashbacks, guns, and more drugs.
The gimmick here is that all the women in the movie are played by men in drag. Frighteningly well played by men in drag. Even the celebrities on magazine covers and billboards are drag queens. This ups the camp level up to eleven, as if it wasn’t high enough with that plotline. Don’t think, however that this is just a drag show on film. These guys are actually acting and are amazingly funny in every single scene. Varla Jean is played by full-figured Jeffery Roberson, who in one scene devours an entire can of cheese-whiz while singing opera. Coco is played by svelte and doe-eyed Clinton Leupp who has guest starred on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, and WILL AND GRACE. The funniest, by far, is Jack Plotnick as Evie. Plotnick starred in movies like DOWN WITH LOVE (2003), RUBBER (2010), and GODS AND MONSTERS (1998) as well as appearances on UGLY BETTY, WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE, ELLEN, and RENO 911. His comedy timing is impeccable and he brings all his lines to delightful camp life.
The sets are gloriously tacky, full of candy-colored wallpaper and drapes, and the costumes are bright and cheerful, even when the “girls” are doing terrible things to each other. Honestly, however, the biggest joy comes from the actors and the terrific, vulgar, tasteless screenplay by director Richard Day, who cut his teeth on TV shows like ROSEANNE, ELLEN, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Quite a resume there.
Some favorite lines:
Coco: Have you had an abortion?
Evie: Coco, I’ve had more children pulled out of me than a burning orphanage.
Evie: Speaking of fake sets, how you like my boobs?
Coco: Let me help you with your duffel bag.
Varla: [confused] My things are in the Cabriolet.
Coco: Oh, I’m sorry. That’s just your ass
Coco: Were you drunk?
Evie: It was twelve noon. Of course I was drunk.
Evie: So I said, why am I laughing? We’re doing it doggy-style and your name is Barker!
Varla: Feelings are like treasures, so bury them.
Coco: It doesn’t make sense. There’s no connection. And I cry for no reason and blame myself, and I’ve been slowly cutting off my toe with a nail file and I have no idea why.
For anyone who gets a kick out of John Waters’ trash epics, this is a one-of-a-kind comedy that gets the camp elements just right. There are more laughs in ten minutes of GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS than in five entire typical Hollywood comedies. Plus, you get it all in drag! And great news, the “girls” will all be back later this year in GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS 2012. I can hardly wait!
I give GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS three and a half ASTEROIDS! Out of four.
© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl