Meet the Topps, twin New Zealand lesbian activist folk singer yodeler comedian actors.
Dir. Leanne Pooley, 2009, 84 min, Viewed via Netflix Instant
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls was apparently a runaway hit in its native New Zealand. Nary a plip in the pond over here. There are more than a few things we like about New Zealand, like Flight of the Conchords or the Lord of the Rings series, but the musical/activist duo of the Topps haven’t crossed over. Which is a shame, because they’re kind of awesome.
I’m only half referring to their music. Their music is… alright. I’m not a big folk person, nor am I a big yodeling person, and that’s the Toppseseses’ “thing.” I don’t find their act, involving dressing up as various, usually male characters, particularly funny, either (maybe their brand of humor is just very NZ-specific), although their geniality makes them quite pleasant to watch on stage. No, the Topps are great because they are great.
Now, I’m not trying to cop out with tautology here. You kind of have to see them in action for yourself, though. Lynda and Jools, twin sisters and lifelong performers, have a spectacularly positive energy to them. They’re wry and quick and hilarious as they bounce off one another, and just watching them relate various aspects of their lives is a treat. This doc is a tribute to them, their careers, and their tireless fight for equal rights for LGBT people.
The Topps, quite bluntly, do not care at all what anyone thinks of them. That kind of gumption is perhaps what has given them such great popularity in their home country, helping them to overcome, or even overwhelm, people’s prejudices. They are uncomplicated and fun-loving, and that sensibility is infectious when they’re present. This inherent lightness makes the more serious parts of the movie stand out all the more, such as when it talks about Jools’s battle with breast cancer. They’ve since added the disease to their list of causes to fight about.
Untouchable Girls makes that old saw about “being yourself” break through its cliched hokiness and really mean something. That’s no small feat. It might not make you a fan of yodeling, but the doc will lodge a fuzzy glow in your chest for a good long while.