In light of the release of the third instalment of the horrendous Big Mama’s House series, Thomas Crowley gives us seven decent cross-dressing films to choose from instead.
I must implore everyone not to waste their hard earned money on going to see the dribble that is Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son. However if you do find yourself having the overwhelming urge to watch a film which involves men dressing up as women, here are seven worthwhile alternatives that you can rent/buy/download instead.
7) Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson
Cillian Murphy stars as Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden, a young man who has a preference for dressing up in female clothing. The film is based on a book by the same name written by Patrick McCabe. This dark comedy, although it is set in the 1970s, incorporates a lot about contemporary Irish life and is set against the back-drop of the political troubles in Northern Ireland. Cillian Murphy gives a great performance as a troubled young boy searching for the mother who abandoned him as a child. Brendan Gleeson is hilarious.
6) Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field and Pierce Bronson
Mrs. Doubtfire is entertaining if not the most intelligent of films. It boasts the comedic talents of Robin Williams who plays Daniel Hillard, a divorced husband who will go to extreme lengths to be around his beloved children, namely impersonating an old English Nanny. Under the alias of Ms. Euphegenia Doubtfire, Daniel Hillard infiltrates his old family home and hilarity ensues. Robin Williams’ brilliance makes up for the annoying and bratty presence of the films younger actors. Guaranteed laughs.
5) Flawless (1999)
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman
This film certainly isn’t flawless but it does brag the incredible acting talents of Oscar winners Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote). De Niro stars as the macho, womanising, ex-cop Walt Koontz. Koontz is homophobic and is constantly bothered by the drag queens who occupy his apartment building. Koontz suffers a stroke which brings his way of life to a crashing halt and leaves him with a speech impediment. He must enlist the help of Rusty (Hoffman), a flamboyant cross-dresser and voice-coach to restore his speech. The rest is predictable.
4) Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Starring: Al Pacino and John Cazale
Based on a true story, Sonny Wortzik (Pacino) robs a bank in order to get money for his lover’s sex change but things do not go according to plan. This is a fantastic drama packed with great acting and fantastic directing by Sidney Lumet who has also directed classics like 12 Angry Men (1957) and Network (1976). The film also won the Oscar for Best Screenplay.
3) The Crying Game (1992)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Miranda Richardson and Forest Whitaker
This film is Neil Jordan’s second on the list and in my opinion the directors most accomplished film. The film again stars Stephen Rea. Jordan and Rea are frequent collaborators with Rea appearing in 10 of the 16 films directed by Jordan. The Crying Game is another film made by Jordan which is set against the backdrop of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Jordan’s brilliant direction bewilders and shocks as the viewer comes to realise that this film is as much about sexual politics as it is about the friction of Irish/English relations. The sexual ambiguity of Dil (Davidson) not only tricks protagonist Fergus (Rea) but has done so with audiences around the globe. Jordan also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this film.
2) Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Jodie Foster, Antony Hopkins, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine
Young FBI Trainee Clarice Starling (Foster) is on the trail of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. She must seek help from the genius but psychotic mind of Dr. Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lector (Hopkins). Buffalo Bill is a cross-dresser with a sinister M.O.; he starves his portly female victims before skinning them. He then wears their skin. Jonathan Demme’s film, which was adapted from Thomas Harris’ bestseller of the same name, is now a classic but has been criticised by feminist critics of homophobia and sexism for its crude depict of homo- and transsexuals. Despite this Silence of the Lambs is one of three films to have won all of the Big Five Oscars i.e. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. The only other films to achieve this were Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). It is a must see for any film lover.
1) Psycho (1960)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Antony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin
Hitchcock’s masterpiece is the oldest film on this list. However Psycho’s superiority cannot be ignored. Marion Crane (Leigh) flees from her job after stealing money from her boss. She seeks solace in the run-down and lonely Bates’ Motel run by the mild-mannered Norman Bates. However, as with many Hitchcock classics, all is not what it appears to be. Norman seemingly has ‘mommy issues’. It is a film that not only tops this list but would also top many critic lists of the best films of all-time!