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But I'm A Cheerleader [DVD]
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Acclaimed romantic comedy starring Natasha Lyonne as Megan, a model cheerleader who's dating the captain of the school's football team. But her over-protective and religious parents are convinced she is gay and send her off to a sexual reorientation camp in the hope of 'straightening' her out. However, it may be more 'camp' than they bargained for...
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It was on a list of underrated movies and I’d heard it mentioned a few times so I thought it was worth investigating. Also apparently it has often been voted very, very highly in best gay film polls.
It was distinctly average. If this is one of the highpoints of the gay film genre then the quality of the other films is scary to contemplate. It’s got a few good ideas but they’re adequately expressed and dealt with during the opening minutes. Once beyond the setup there’s nowhere new for the film to go as it’s used up most of its ideas and inspiration. The story, or the points its making, could have been handled in three or four comedy sketches with a combined length of less than ten minutes. There is some real substance here, but it says all it has to say very quickly. There isn’t much else to the film as the script is underwritten and underdeveloped. The characters were paper-thin, including the leads. There’s a noticeable paucity of actual jokes. The visuals (extreme colours and fake looking sets) and the soundtrack (ugly, loud incidental music and very dated 90s alt-rock) are both very gaudy and slightly off-putting. It might be partly due to budget problems but the film is stylised enough that the gaudiness is obviously on purpose and not just something imposed due to poor circumstances. The acting was weak throughout by almost everyone but the lead actress was especially poor. With a more responsive lead actress this might have worked better and been a smoother viewing experience. I also didn’t buy into the central lesbian romance. They seemed more attracted to each other because they were in the same place rather than because there was any noticeable chemistry. The ending was particularly abrupt.
I laughed a few times, and there is an interesting story here but its potential has been mostly left unrealised due to a weak script. It’s a film of no particular merit but it was very watchable. I would shrug with indifference and call it average.
NOTE: I watched the full-length UK edit. Apparently the censors in America chopped several minutes out of it to get a fairly high R certificate. In the UK it has a fairly low 15 certificate.
NOTE 28/7/17: I watched another film with a strong connection to this one:
The Intervention (2016)
A frosty married couple are invited by three other couples to a holiday home so they can stage an intervention to suggest that they get divorced.
It's a good movie with a good script and strong acting (there are only eleven credited actors, three of them bit parts). There's quite a bit of nervous tension in it and I found myself constantly chuckling, especially in the first half. Curiously, considering I first watched it less than a year ago, I had quite a few memory gaps as chunks of it I couldn't recall in advance. I watched it again because I realised the lead actresses in But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) play a lesbian couple in this as well (it's also written and directed by one of those actresses). Natasha Lyonne has improved significantly as an actor since her weak, unresponsive performance in But I’m a Cheerleader.
I like the film a lot. It's an indie film by numbers in many ways but the quality of the writing, acting and filmmaking is very high and raises it above most other indie movies of its type. It's much better than its generic nature would suggest.
4 out of 5 stars.
The comedy works really well because you're laughing at how ludicrous the system is.
It's also a lovely romance film which is such a rare novelty in a world where any lesbian films are aimed primarily at the straight males voyeuristic gaze! This doesn't do that.
It instead legitimises the two main characters love for each other without any connotations of a straight mans fantasy, as well as the relationships between the other male and female characters.
The way that it's done also makes a fine job of showing that you can't "pray the gay away"'and that you can't change who you are- and that you bloody well shouldn't have to because there's nothing wrong with being gay or bi!
Natasha Lyonne is superb! In other roles, she's been very streetwise with an externally strong sense of self. In this, however, she's very naive and very easily influenced by others. So it shows how versatile her acting skills are.
Well done to everyone involved in the making of this film! It's one of my all time favourites!
Natasha Lyonne our lesbian icon and Clea Duvall another personal hero of mine play their roles well in this brilliant rom-com.
I mean as cliche as it is about gay movies mostly always having a plot line where being gay is a problem (common for pre 2012 movies), for once I didn't slap my forehead and go 'oh no not again'.
RuPaul minus fabulous wigs and dresses is in this too! It's a no-brainer!
This is definitely a favourite in my collection. :)
I absolutely love this film, it’s so funny and the love story is very sweet and genuine. Other great things about it include RuPaul, some rather fantastic characters and the soundtrack.
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