***Spoilers may follow. Reader beware! *** A lot of time and effort went into this film. And for an independent production with a no doubt smallish budget, it looks great. But sadly the concept is dated. It would have been perfect for in 1982, just after Anita Bryant's Miami jihad and the rapid rise of the religious right. And much of it it would have been relevant as late as 1998, after the Mathew Shepard murder. (My bona fides for this review: a gay male, who came out in rural Texas in the late 70s. Homophobia. Football. Religion. I know this territory.) But today? We gays and lesbians are everywhere. We're not only tolerated, we're accepted. We've won the debate on same-sex marriage. We've even risen to the level where we can be a CEO, or simply a boring, suburban, PTA member, and totally ignored. Politically, we have the momentum, whether it is in controlling campus debates or ordering at the local bakery. We would be hard pressed to find any school district or college tolerating the over-the-top bigotry and hatred displayed in this film. MSNBC, the New York Times, CNN, ESPN, and social media would be all over any of the incidents portrayed. And forget about those Nike and Coca-Cola sponsorships. OK. Set that aside. Look at it as science fiction: a parallel, opposite world -- Bizarro World for all you Seinfeld fans -- in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality looked upon as abhorrent, as in the early 80s. It's a fertile concept. But there are still problems. Writer/ director Kim Rocco Shields' Homosexualworld is wildly inconsistent, obeys no rules and simply fails. Here the women are the jocks, playing football, and being scouted by the NFL. Yet the college coaches, and the play-by-play announcer are all male. More confusing is a major character who becomes a stereotypical, super-fem, mean-girl homecoming queen, not student body president or something more "male" and Y-chromesoney. The college boy characters (who would be women in a sorority house in our real, opposite, heteroworld) live in a frat house where violent, macho, physical hazing and even sexual assault is tolerated. I've never heard of the tri-Delts getting up to that kind of bad behavior. More puzzling: references, never fleshed out, to some sort of "breeding season." Yes, where DO the babies come from? Is there some sort of test-tube / IVF ritual? I'm a sic-fi fan, and yes, there must be rules for an alternative world. There are other inconsistencies. Since when does a fundamentalist Protestant church have a confession booth? And outside of Anglicans, where does the priest wear a clerical collar? Is the movie taking a swipe at Catholics in addition to the Phelps / Westboro clan in Kansas? Meanwhile over at the stadium, the football team's behavior is just ludicrous. Our "real world" men would never act like these petty, vengeful, homo-world women. There would be other unpleasant consequences, yes, but nothing like the on-field action. It could be that Shield's has tried to do too much and taken her eye off the details. The film covers everything from garden variety homophobia to teen suicide; gay bashing (shades of Mathew Shepard); grade school bullying; teen suicide; religious fanaticism (Westboro Baptist Church); social media shaming (the Tyler Clementi case); the impact of right wing politics on school curriculum; the gay rights movement; and even, tangentially, college sports excesses. These are all worthy topics, but why not focus on just one or two? And stop with the with the "messages," the lectures, the exposition. Whatever happened to subtlety? Or a consistent style for that matter? I felt I was watching a campy mash-up of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit; Friday Night Lights; a SciFy series; General Hospital; an ABC After School Special; and maybe even a Lifetime made for TV movie, all slathered with preachy, docudrama gravy. One especially disturbing scene was positively Tarantino-like. Despite the messy material, the actors were troopers. You'll recognize a few of them from TV roles. Two were actually from the Law and Order series. Convincing, competent performances from all despite the material. I especially liked Emily Osment in the mean-girl / Homecoming Queen role — a tiara no less! — who played it totally for camp. On that level -- camp -- I actually enjoyed the movie.
Love Is All You Need?
Love Is All You Need?
Prejudice. Human rights. Bullying. "Romeo and Juliet" meets "Crash" meets "Requiem for a Dream"...with a twist. Based on the multi-award winning short film of the same name.
June 15, 2020