WELCOME TO WOOP WOOPR
If you thought Stephan Elliott's last film, that wild ride, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, was brash and over-the-top, rebuckle those seat belts, because his new effort makes that one seem positively mousy by comparison. Set in a mythical Australian town, Welcome to Woop Woop recounts the misadventures of a Boy from New York City, Teddy (Johnathon Schaech), who lands there, quite by accident. He's been hornswaggled and unhappily hogtied in matrimony to Angie (Susie Porter), an abusive, wild young thang whose father (Rod Taylor) happens to be the chief honcho of Woop Woop. He oversees the eccentric burg's twin obsessions with canning dog food (its chief export) and Rodgers & Hammerstein, will only permit residents to eat canned pineapple, and severely rations their tobacco intake.
Yoy may have surmised by now that this is, as Johnny Carson was once wont to say, weird, wild and wacky stuff. Conceived and directed without an ounce of subtlety, it appears to have been made during a creative jag brought on by a particularly lethal mix of steroids, vitamins X and K, and a quart of GHB ????. Elliott's attempts at killer entertainment only result in the actors making utter fools of themselves and complete exhaustion on the part of the audience. 'Enough already!' you want to scream, as excess is piled on yet more excess, with a recurring fart joke for good measure. Whatever discernible gay sensibility it possesses is strictly mired in the lowest of low-camp reaches.
Priscilla was one of those 'heartwarming' gay cinematic efforts pioneered by La Cage aux Folles, and followed by To Wong Foo, In & Out and, of course, The Birdcage: heavy on hetero audience appeal in its stereotyped depiction of gay life as a bubbly cartoon intermittently shot with an all-too-easily remedied pathos. Priscilla squeaked by thanks to its startling psychedelic color and scenic splendor, irresistibly cheesy disco soundtrack and wardrobe, and Terence Stamp's uncanny, near-lyrical aplomb. Elliott retains his visual savvy and has employed Lizzy Gardiner, the Oscar-winning costume designer from that film, as well as a gifted new cinematographer, Mike Malloy. They do some clever, even at times, inspired, work, but talk about dressing up a wildebeest! The single funny moment occurs at a community screening of The Sound of Music, during the infamous scene in which Mother Superior Peggy Wood innocently calls Julie Andrews a scatological name.
With his killer-lascivious, mile-wide grin, Schaech (That Thing You Do!, Hush) remains one of the most redolent examples of male eye candy on the screen. Ostensibly playing a heterosexual here, he nonetheless is outfitted in enough decollete-baring tops to turn any Roxy go-go dancer pea green with envy. Porter physically resembles Patricia Arquette one minute, Madonna the next, and throws herself wholeheartedly into what must be one of the most unappealingly screechy female characters ever lensed. Taylor, once quite a hunk himself, is near-unrecognizable as her mean ole Daddy-O, especially when drunkenly wallowing in mud alongside a gigantic sow. There's a host of actors making cameo appearances which vary in egregiousness: Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage to you), Paul Mercurio (of Strictly Ballroom and legendary-buns-fame), and 'Gilligan's Island''s Ginger Grant, herself, Tina Louise. Who knew that a film such as this could make that uncannily immortal sitcom seem a model of tasteful restraint?