Released 22nd September
Seen 30th November
Directed by Assaad Yacoub
Written by Nick Landa
Produced by Wolfe Releasing
Starring Lars Berge, Mayhem Miller, Detox Icunt, Bob The Drag Queen, Allusia, Tempest DuJour & Latrice Royale
There is a very small genre of films that revolve around a drag queen. Classics like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert or Too Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Numar are big high points in the genre but there are other great films like Victor Victoria, The Birdcage, Some Like It Hot or Tootsie. Drag is a great topic for a film but you know who very rarely get’s to star in these kinds of movies? Actual drag queens. Since we now live in a post-Drag Race world, someone decided to fix that and god bless them for it.
Cherry Pop focusses on a very small bar, the lowest dive bar you could ever imagine being in that happens to also be a themed drag bar where every night there is a brand new queen (Known as “The Cherry”, played by Lars Berge) who will get up and give their first performance of their drag career. What we get to see is about an hour and a half of the queens backstage trying to deal with putting on a show, the aftermath of a tragedy in the head queens life, handling a brand new queen who has a secret (Other than where she’s hiding everything) and a lot of general drag queen bitchiness. Basically, it’s heavenly.
The main cast is amazing and while they all have glorious drag names like “White Chocolate”, “Blanquisha” or “Kitten Withawhip”, any fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race knows half the main cast already and any fan of drag in general has probably heard of all of them. Personally, my favourites of the bunch were Bob The Drag Queen, Detox and Mayhem Miller. Mayhem especially has just some of the best moments in the film, she clearly doesn’t take any crap and her performance when she hit’s the stage… I know this is meant to be a film review, but Mayhem had better be on RuPaul’s Drag Race soon because holy crap she is amazing when she’s performing a number. Honestly, all the queens here should be on Drag Race so the world can see them being themselves but Mayhem especially needs to be on that show already!
Tempest Dujour destroyed me with her brilliant performance as Lady Zaza. She’s kind of doing what Nathan Lane did at the start of The Birdcage for the entire movie, if you cranked it up to 11 and made it go for an hour and a half… which is pretty much my favourite thing. Give me hyper-emotional drag queens screaming and being dramatic every day and I’m a happy boy. Detox also steals a fair few scenes with her delivery, her yelling “Breeder!” in one particular scene just slayed me. Special props also to Latrice Royale in the role of Terry. Even though Terry is meant to be this asshole character who is clearly that one over-enthusiastic drunk we all see at the bar, Latrice makes him so entertaining. I realise that none of these names makes sense if you haven’t watched RuPaul’s Drag Race… fortunately, there’s a cure for that. It’s called binge viewing.
There are a few mild problems I have stylistically with this. The constant voice-over accompanied by pausing was a bit weird, although it does lead to a pretty funny fourth wall breaking joke that I did love but I feel they overdid the voice over a little. Also, I love Wendy Ho, I really do but do you need to make almost all of the lip sync songs hers? The “White Bitch” song felt perfect because it fit the character, didn’t need the abortion one or the shake it out the leg song. It felt repetitive hearing the same vocalist appearing in multiple songs, they were good songs and well performed by the queens but it just felt cheap. I get that maybe they could only afford songs from an artist they knew but it just didn’t work for me. I also did have a problem with how the finale is set up, the series of random coincidences that had to happen in such a precise order just before the performance of The Cherry and even while watching it I was going “Yeah, that wouldn’t happen”… you get over it quickly when they get to the performance by The Cherry, but it still felt wrong.
That being said, this film is a fun drag film that belongs up there with the classics in the genre. It’s funny, it stars actual goddamn queens, it’s got a lot of genuinely incredible scenes and just feels like we’re spending an hour and a half backstage at a drag show with a bunch of awesome queens who know what they’re doing and don’t take crap from anybody. Cherry Pop gave me exactly what I want out of a drag queen movie… namely, an hour and a half of awesome drag queens being awesome. Sure it has some things I think could be improved, maybe when they do the shequel (Please do one, I need more and this cast is so damn perfect together. A road trip movie, a new Cherry, I don’t care but I want more of this cast!). I definitely recommend this movie, it’s on Netflix right now do get your padded asses over there and watch it.