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As gays and lesbians have achieved more and more acceptance in our society,
a countervailing force led mostly by conservative religious organizations
- has been rearing its head in recent years. The movement is often
to as `reparative therapy,' the rather absurd notion that, with just a
little grit, determination and behavior modification, homosexuals can be
`cured' of their `illness' and groomed to take their place as fine,
upstanding members of the heterosexual community. Certain `treatment
centers' dedicated to this dubious cause have even begun to spring up in
areas around the country, modeling themselves after 12-step programs like
The makers of `But I'm a Cheerleader' have chosen to have a little fun with the concept, imagining one of these centers in almost surrealistic terms. Sweet-faced Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan, a regular teenager happily content to give her all to her cheerleading squad and only mildly confused as to why she can't seem to get quite as excited by her boyfriend as by thoughts of her buxom cheerleader buddies. Suspecting her of being a lesbian long before Megan herself does, actually her `concerned' parents, friends and boyfriend cart her off to True Directions, a treatment center tucked safely away in the country. In this bucolic setting, Megan and a group of other `deviants' are put through the rigors of a 5-step therapy program which includes admitting their homosexuality, undergoing gender role playing and even `practicing' man/woman sexual behavior under the stern tutelage of the mistress of the place. In keeping with the near-surrealism of the subject matter, the center is done up in an almost Montessori school motif, with bold colored walls and furniture somehow emphasizing the cold, inhuman sterility of the setting.
`But I'm a Cheerleader' is, by no means, a great or entirely successful comedy. Its attempts at humor, particularly in its opening scenes, seem a bit forced and heavy-handed at times. Moreover, the tone shifts a bit uneasily every so often, running the gamut from stylized absurdity to heartbreaking seriousness. Still, the undisciplined messiness is really part of the film's overall charm. It removes the work from the same category as all those ultra-slick bubble-headed comedies about teens that major studios seem to release with frightening regularity. And the movie does have many laugh-out-loud moments of inspired lunacy, showing to what preposterous lengths many straights and even some pressured gays will go in order to `correct' the uncorrectable. We see the girls being given instructions on how to use a vacuum cleaner, wear makeup and change diapers. The boys are instructed in the fine arts of wood chopping, throwing a football and fixing cars. These scenes work, in particular, not only for their comic effectiveness but their underlying poignancy, as these scared youngsters many threatened with disownment by their parents if they don't `straighten up' give it their all, against all hope, to truly change, to deny the very person their raging hormones are screaming at them to be.
The movie also manages to make the gay characters seem real and believable. Thanks to a superb cast, many of the teens emerge as touching, three-dimensional people rather than the cartoon characters that they might have become in a similar film of this kind - particularly when it would be so easy for them to become so in the face of the caricatures of parents and camp counselors who swirl around them in this highly stylized setting. Prime among these is Cathy Moriarty, brilliant as Mary, the prim and proper leader of the establishment, a woman whose righteous wrong-headedness the actress captures to a comic tee. In contrast, Rue Paul, out of drag for once, gives a superbly understated performance as an `ex-gay' now working for the enemy. Among the teens, Lyonne and Clea DuVall, as the girl Megan falls in love with, are the obvious standouts. They turn these potentially cardboard comic characters into full-sized, instantly recognizable young women filled with yearning, confusion and a desire to both please others and be true to themselves.
And that is the ultimate message of this film. Though done in an absurd way, the movie strives to point out that all of us must be allowed to be who we are and to live the life that best suits us. Whether we are gay, straight or whatever, that's a philosophy of life we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
Incredible social commentary. Yes, It's a little campy, but it's all
supposed to be that way. It's an amusing look at attempting to 'rehab"
homosexuals with therapy and "finding their roots". Great acting all
around, excellent writing.
Personally, it was the subtle things that did it for me. Mary's son was funny, and the cut-outs (just pay attention to the boys' lessons) were Hilarious. I thought it was a great tongue-in-cheek way of saying "okay, this is stupid, we need to let them be" for the gay community.
If you're in the mood for a lot of laughing, and RuPaul out-of-drag to boot, rent this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie definitely doesn't have as much recognition as it
I absolutely love this movie. I appreciate its comedy, and its love story, and the valuable lesson it tries to get across its audience: Just Be Yourself!
This movie is about a typical teenage girl named Megan Bloomfield living in a suburban neighborhood. She's got is all, looks, popularity, the jock boyfriend, and also, she's head cheerleader! But there is something odd about this girl that no one can put their finger on. Why does she seem so disinterested in making out with her boyfriend? Why does she have pictures of girls in her locker? Why does she eat TOFU? There must be only one answer: She's totally, 100%...GAY! It's the only reason for the way she's behaving, so off her parents force her to go, to a rehab camp called True Directions for Gay People. Six weeks in this place and you come out straight as a pin, they claim.
Going in, Megan doesn't think she's gay, but it only takes her a few days to think otherwise. Soon she is doing all the exercises to make herself normal again.
Then she meets bad girl lesbian Graham Eaton, a girl that shares a room with her. Well at first, the two hate each other, but then soon afterwords, become friends. Graham tells her that no one can change who you are, but Megan is determined to graduate. Suddenly, the relationship between the two of them becomes more than friends, and Megan realizes she wants to be with Graham, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says, she will always be Megan, head cheerleader, and lesbian.
This film is a biting and hilarious parody of people who not only force
themselves into artificial molds but also feel the to make other people fit
the same stereotypical molds. The main attack of the satire is on the
delusion that homosexuals can be cured by people who are themselves
Deliciously silly victorian roles of males and females are superimposed on the teenagers who struggle not to be who they really are. But the garishly-colored costumes of the 1950's "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It To Beaver" style are as incongruous as the fake role-playing. In the end, at least some of the young victims of this cruelty escape to face a life of being themselves.
This is a completely different take on any 'coming out' movie I have ever
seen - but with RuPaul as a former homosexual turned 'conversion
it would pretty much have to be!
Mink Stole is delightfully smarmy as Amanda's (Natasha Lyonne) mother who sends Amanda the cheerleader to `True Directions' a homosexual deprogramming camp - camp being the key word - mostly based on the fact that she doesn't like her quarterback boyfriend's extremely wet and sloppy kisses and (heaven forbid!) she has a poster of Melissa Etheridge in her bedroom.
The camp is a wonderful, non-stop visual joke.
The girl's bathroom has literally thousands of daisies attached to the walls. Their bedroom is a riot of pink satin, ribbons and lace worthy of Mae West.
The girls have to wear pink uniforms and do housework; the boys are in blue and have to learn to chop wood, work on cars and learn football. Watching RuPaul work on a car is worth the price of admission alone.
Each of the kids has a 'root,' - the reason they became gay: ranging from `a traumatic bris' to `my mother got married in pants.'
Larry and Lloyd (Richard Moll and Wesley Mann, respectively) are priceless as two of the first clients of True Direction and are now self described ex-ex-gays. They rescue kids via the 'underground homo railroad' with the message `that no matter who you are, be yourself.'
They are an absolute delight.
The final 'graduation scene' which wraps up the film very nicely is a real gem - I didn't know they made lavender fatigues!
There were some real standout performances - Dante Basco as Dolph and Clea DuVall as Graham deserve special recognition.
Don't run out as soon as the credits start rolling: There is one last scene that seals this film with just the perfect touch.
I was fortunate enough to catch "But I'm a Cheerleader" last night, and
I must say the only thing that bothered me was the fact that I hadn't
stumbled upon it sooner.
Megan Bloomfield is a beautiful blonde, who seems to have the life that every girl has once dreampt of. She is a popular cheerleader, dating the captain of the football team. All seems well until she arrives home from school one day. Megan's family and friends confront her, and in classic Intervention fashion proceed to tell her what they KNOW to be the truth: That she is a repressed lesbian. She is sent into a "Rehab" program ran by "Reformed" gays and lesbians. What could possibly go wrong?
I believe it is worth mentioning that this film has an early John Waters feel to it. Mink Stole, who has been in every John Waters movie beginning in 1966, plays the role of Megan's Mother Nancy.
If campy humor and love catch your eye, check it out. It might make you think a little, and it's sure to give you a few laughs.
But I'm A Cheerleader was a great look at what Hollywood rarely looks at. Gays. It was a beautiful and funny movie with a great cast. Jamie Babbit Directed her young cast brilliantly and the cast should be commended on the believability of their characters. Each actor and actress really becomes the role. Admititly it is not without its drawbacks. Some of the scenes went to fast and we were not able to soak in the jokes. In some scenes the actors who payed the gay men did over act their roles a bit but i suppose they had to. Really needs two viewings to appreciate it more. Also anyone who does not get moved by 'that cheer' must be made of stone. A great movie for anyone in the closet or anyone just looking for a good feel-good-movie.
To many viewers this is probably not much more than a well-made, feel-good satirical comedy about teenage homosexuality and adult homophobia mixed with some heart-warming moments, and indeed it serves that function of somewhat superficial entertainment well. But it is a lot more than that. If you watch carefully, this is an incredibly honest, revealing and touchingly sensitive film on teenage identity crisis and identity search interacting with social influences. It tells you more than any psychology book could tell on adolescence, because one cannot put all that into words. Natasha Lyonne as 17 year old Megan (the heroine of the story) demonstrates amazing qualities of acting in a role which is probably the most demanding any actor or actress can face: that of a changing adolescent personality re-discovering one's inner, formerly suppressed unconscious self over two months, while still remaining herself in a way. If you compare her different faces at different phases of the story, e.g. when she "just cannot think of anything" at the camp, and when she looks into the bathroom mirror much later in the film washing her teeth, you will see what I mean. If you are not distracted by hilariously funny bits and jokes and you do not consider poor acting by Cathy Moriarty, it is in fact a top quality drama made superbly. Intimate conversations between the two leading actors (Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall) tell more in one minute of this film about life than most movie star celebrities do throughout their whole career. Natasha Lyonne should have received an Oscar for this as best actress, and she should have been offered leading roles in less superficial films than "American Pie". A talent wasted. Her performance in this film is an extraordinary achievement and a very touching experience for anyone sensitive enough to resonate to it. I highly recommend it for re-watching it several times: you will not get bored if you are attentive enough.
For anyone who grew up or is growing up gay in middle-America or just
all of America, get ready to return to the most twisted version of your
school years and laugh till you're pink in the face. But, I'm a
is one of the best gay themed movies to date. It is certainly one of the
best comedies. Sort of a Jeffrey turned female high school cheerleader
meets John Waters with only the best qualities of each.
I only wish this film had been available when I was a high school senior nearly fifteen years ago. It could have saved me thousands of dollars a year in therapy! If you are gay, and especially young or dealing with coming out at any age either to yourself and/or to others please go rent this movie. This is one of the only films I've seen which shows you can have a wonderful life and be happy and be loved and be gay.
My gay best friend and I watched this movie together recently. I found it to be quite a funny and touching film. It played on all the typical gay stereotypes, while also discrediting them. I found it to be highly enjoyable. There were some genuinely comic moments to be found here. Everyone (gay, straight, bi, or whatever) can get a pleasant laugh out of this movie. Don't miss out on it just because of its controversial subject matter. A+
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