But I’m A Cheerleader **
One Liner Review:
An interesting sort of black comedy with a unique premise that ends up becoming kind of routine and formulaic as it goes on.
A black comedy about a camp for kids who are gay, that their parents send them to in order to train them to be straight, this is a pretty funny movie. it stars the always wonderful natasha lyonne in a role that she is just perfect for, as the normal kid who can’t believe the ridiculousness of everyone around her. there is a lot of sexual humor here and some really over the top color coordination that is like john waters meets tim burton when it comes to atmosphere and decoration. the story is pretty good for a while, including all of the lessons they are taught in the program, but as it gets closer to a climax, it becomes more routine and formulaic. even still, it’s an enjoyable film.
But I’m A Cheerleader is a pretty interesting and creative movie. it’s a black comedy about a girl who everybody thinks is a lesbian. and so her parents organize and intervention for her and then have her shipped off to a camp for people who are gay, that is designed to make them straight. the movie feels like a john waters film, even though it’s not, which means that even thought there isn’t any nudity, the movie seems to be holding nothing back. it’s going all out, discussing everything, and yet doing it all in the interest of comedy.
But I’m A Cheerleader stars natasha lyonne as megan, the girl who all of this happens to. megan doesn’t know she’s a lesbian, and in fact, we don’t necesarily know it either for a while. she has pictures of athlete girls hanging up in her locker, but so what? they are role models for younger girls. she doesn’t like when her boyfriend shoves his tongue down her throat, but who would? the movie makes it seem like he is completely disgusting (the tongue scenes remind me of the john waters movie, crybaby.) and then there’s the fact that she thinks about the boobs and underwear of some of her cheerleader friends. i suppose that is the giveaway, but for megan, she just thinks she’s being curious, and not really thinking about this stuff in a sexual way.
natasha lyonne is a fun actress, and perfect for this movie. one year earlier, she starred in another black comedy, slums of beverly hills, which was just incredibly funny in all sorts of ridiculous ways. alan arkin, in particular, was great in that movie. But I’m A Cheerleader is a little darker, a lot more sexual, and not quite as funny, but lyonne is the perfect actress for the part. just like in slums, here she is a girl who thinks everyone else around her, and in society, is nuts. she’s the barometer of rational, down to earth reasoning that we can relate to, as all the other characters around her seem a little crazy. for example, when her father says grace at the dinner table as a long speech to god, it is megan rolling her eyes in disbelief, that makes us laugh.
once megan goes off to the camp, which is kind of like a boarding school, she starts to realize that maybe the rumors of her being a lesbian are actually true, and she just didn’t know it yet. she meets a whole group of kids her age, about three boys and three girls, and becomes friendly with them. in the case of graham, played by clea duvall, she becomes more than just friends. the two girls start up a realtionship with each other. there are boys in the camp going at it with each other, sneaking off to make out, as well.
the school / camp that she is at is designed to teach it’s students how to be straight. it’s a multi-step program, with lots of sitting around for group discussions. the first step is to admit that you are gay, and megan completes this one just to join the others, and take the attention off herself as the only one who hasn’t passed it yet.
cathy moriarty plays mary brown, the headmaster who runs the school. she is tough and angry, and is so set on her ways of trying to change these kids that she doesn’t even notice her own son is completely flaming, right in front of her eyes. if she does notice yet, then she refuses to address it, and corrects his behavior without ever acknowledging that he has it worse than most of the kids in her program. this kid is blatantly flaming, and not even hiding it at all.
mary brown’s son isn’t the only unexpected character who happens to be gay in the movie. another one is the head counselor, mike, (played by the famous drag queen, rupaul.) mike used to be gay and has now changed his ways. he’s like the addict who is now a sponsor for people at AA. mike doesn’t come onto any of the kids or anything like that, but it’s mary brown’s son, who makes him have urges that he has long been repressing.
there is a lot of atmosphere here, including some fun coloring situations where everything for the girls is pink and everything for the boys is blue. that includes much more than just the clothing. it includes everything in their rooms, and really just about every object they use for training and teaching. so, for example, the axe that the boys use to chop would is bright blue and so is the car that they work on. these things are so extreme in their colors, that they don’t even look realistic, which kind of defeats the point, if the point is to get them used to doing these things in the real world. it’s all pretty funny.
most of the movie is about megan at mary brown’s school. there is some conflict with two of the boys who megan catches making out and then turns on, before she realizes what she is doing. one of those boys is kicked out of school. in an act of foreshadowing, something very similar happens to megan later on, which i’m sure made her regret her turing the boys in earlier in the movie. the kids sneak out to a gay bar and dance with each other at night. this is their first chance to see what else is out there, since being at the program.
the movie has a lot of interesting ideas, and funny moments. there is another camp nearby in town, and this one is a sort of refuge for kids who are gay. in this house, everything is rainbow colored. it’s a lot of fun watching how many of the characters are actually gay, from the people at this house to the ones who are hiding it, working at mary brown’s house. it’s also very entertaining watching the boys try to participate in activities for straight guys and failing miserably. the story does become a little too routine by the end, with a predictable climax, but for the most part, it’s a pretty good film.