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For the first half-hour or so of Connie and Carla, you’ll empathize with the Russian thug: “Stop talking, strange women.” The strange women in this case are Toni Collette and screenwriter and My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos, who play the title characters in this gradually likable fake-drag-queen comedy. Sassy Connie (Vardalos) and sulky Carla (Collette) are lifelong fish-out-of-water friends who began inflicting their song-and-dance routines on the masses back in grade school. Now performing regularly in an airport bar, the heavily made-up, mall-haired duo are forced to take their show on the road when their boss gets them mixed up in a drug deal. In order to divorce themselves from their dinner-theater past, they decide to hide out where “there’s no culture at all.” Cue easy punch line: L.A. More obvious humor ensues when the pair arrives in California, cluelessly dancing with men at a gay club and then realizing their perfect cover—and career opportunity—would be to perform their campy, show-tune-laden act as men dressed as women. Surprisingly, Connie and Carla gets better at this point, mostly because of Vardalos and Collette’s impressive ability to belt out a song. Much of the movie is, in fact, a series of musical numbers, whether it’s the gals singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” or casts in dinner theaters across the country doing “Mame,” to the increasing (and rather funny) enjoyment of the aforementioned heavy (Boris McGiver), who’s tasked with finding the women. The midfilm arrival of Jeff (David Duchovny), conflicted and long-lost brother of cross-dressing barkeep Robert (Stephen Spinella), helps, too, adding nuance to Vardalos’ at times eye-rollingly cheesy script. Jeff’s difficulty in accepting Robert, as well as his fondness for Connie, who he believes is a man, are refreshing spins on the requisite relationship issues, and all three actors wear their characters’ respective turmoils charmingly. Vardalos makes her character the too-obvious center of the movie, taking all the snappy one-liners for herself and leaving Collette little to do but pout, it’s true, but she can be forgiven: Connie and Carla’s sweet but uncloying message of acceptance and being true to yourself just about makes up for anyone’s big fat ego. —Tricia Olszewski