Agent Smith, General Zod, and Leonard Shelby turn the conventions of the road movie upside down all across the Australian desert on a lavender bus in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Priscilla, of course, is the bus. The stars are Hugo Weaving (Smith), Terence Stamp (Zod),and Guy Pearce (Shelby) and they play a trio of drag queens who fix up an old bus in order to drive from Sydney to Alice Springs to perform their act at a casino theater run by Weaving’s lesbian wife.
Amazingly, the movie is even funnier than it sounds. For example, at one point they get lost on a shortcut out in the middle of nowhere–after all way back in 1993, when this movie was made, civilian GPS wasn’t available, was it?–and are rescued by a roving band of Aboriginals. To say thanks, they get out their full kit and perform. Then there is the late in life romance between Stamp and their auto mechanic, Bob. And I knew I’d seen the actor playing Bob before, Bill Hunter. Turns out he played Muriel’s sleazy politician father in that other 1994 Australian hit comedy, Muriel’s Wedding.
Acting is all about submerging the actor in the role and bringing the character to life, right? Well after seeing The Adventures of Priscilla, I have to say that Hugo Weaving is a terrific actor, just on the range of roles he’s pulled off. The drag queen here, Agent Smith in The Matrix, and Elrond (the Elven King) in Fellowship of the Ring. Someone needs to explain to me why he isn’t getting more big roles. Maybe after the Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions films come out next year he’ll get busy.