A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.
Billy Bob Thornton,
Walt Koontz, a homophobic guy, ends up with paralyzed vocal cords because of an unfortunate stroke. His therapy includes receiving singing lessons from a neighbor who is not only openly flamboyant but also a pre-op transgenderist. Both of them are equally prejudiced; Koontz against homosexuals and the neighbor against close-minded straight people. Written by
Rob Reser - The Movie Kid - <email@example.com>
Philip Seymour Hoffman is good--if one-note--as a drag queen in New York who makes nice with the neighbor he hates, security officer and now stroke-victim Robert De Niro. The antagonistic relationship between the two might've used a bit more smoothing over (occasionally it feels like they're winging it, and De Niro's speech impediment tends to vary), but with two such fine actors running the scenes, there are compensations. De Niro himself looks fantastic, and he doesn't try to command the picture or any of his scenes with Hoffman; he's such a team player that you automatically respond to him. A drug-czar subplot is old hat, and the dancehall girl-with-the-pure-heart stuff is an obvious cliché, it has all been done before. But the real problem with the movie is that times have changed and perceptions are different, and not all gays are drag-queens and not all drag-queens want to have sex-change operations. It's a moldy movie myth that the filmmakers don't seem to get (perhaps they were brought up in an earlier era and believe the stereotype?). The continual foul language is a strain to listen to, but the growing camaraderie between the two leads proves to have some interesting give-and-take. **1/2 from ****
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