Hurricane Bianca is a playful and fun film that’s at its best when playing up drag staples such as witty comebacks and larger-than-life personalities but falls short in its attempt to make broader social statements, though it only attempts the latter on a cursory level. The film is split into two parts, which can make for some disjointed storytelling. The first part of the film places Richard (Roy Haylock) as a down-on-his-luck science teacher hoping to make ends meet in small town Texas. The Texas town is only minimally represented and is painted as merely a caricature in order to increase the potential for comedy. However, there is very little comedy in the first part of the film even when it is explicitly trying to be funny. The second part of the film is worth the wait, though. Hurricane Bianca is definitely silly but entirely entertaining, and though it plays it fast and loose technically, it’s ultimately a great addition to the post-camp cannon.
Hurricane Bianca follows Richard as he transforms into RuPaul’s Drag Race winner and fan-favourite Bianca Del Rio in order to keep his job as a teacher. There, Bianca causes havoc but excels at her job much to the chagrin of antagonist Mrs. Debbie Ward (Rachel Dratch). With his band of fabulous misfits, Karma (Bianca Leigh), Bailey (Willam Belli) and Stephen (DJ Pierce), Richard takes down the bullies and the meanies in order to create space for queer people in a small Texas town.
Much of the fun in the film is derived from watching Bianca Del Rio in the classroom. She cuts down the students who try to mess with her to gain their respect and protects the kids who get teased. Hurricane Bianca favors light humour, though it does cover issues like bullying and homophobia, it doesn’t dwell on its more negative implications too long. Some of the performances could have been a little more pronounced but the actors are aware that the material doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should they.
The conflict in the film remains superficial but that’s the point, Hurricane Bianca is not naïve camp but instead very attune to the realm it exists within. The film excels most when it oscillates between being John Waters level outlandish and an ode to 90’s era comedies such as Hocus Pocus and Election. As is often important in drag and queer culture, having a deep-rooted knowledge of popular culture creates a lot of room for nuanced jokes, and Hurricane Bianca has that in spades. Many of the scenes cater to those in the know, so they might go over the heads of audience members who aren’t in on the joke.
At points Hurricane Bianca is a little too self-reflexive and it would have been more enjoyable if it had placed more focus on Bianca’s wit. The pacing and story itself are hit or miss and there are jokes that don’t land or performances that are a bit stilted. That being said, it’s still a very entertaining film. When watching the film, expect a thin storyline with punchline after punchline that end up working well together. Hurricane Bianca features equal parts sass and sentimentality and if a must-see for anyone who is a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race or who loves camp in general.
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