But I'm A Cheerleader! Review
Comedies about gay people tend to either be very, very good indeed (La Cage aux Folles), or very, very weak (In and Out, The Birdcage). It's very easy for a filmmaker, gay or straight, to do little more than rehash limp wristed stereotypes of effeminate or predatory homosexuals in the hope of a few easy laughs. The reason why La Cage aux Folles is so successful is that it's a character based comedy where the characters happen to be homosexual, rather than cheap gags based on characters' sexuality. Unfortunately, But I'm a cheerleader! is a dire attempt at a so-called comedy, with the cumulative effect of being about as funny as cancer.
The plot is not entirely without comic potential, as cheerleader Megan Williams (Lyonne) is sent to a camp to 'cure' lesbians and gays, and to return her to her 'normal' state of heterosexuality, only to find the camp a hotbed of suppressed lesbianism. In the hands of a director such as Kevin Smith or even Michael (Heathers) Lehmann, the scene might be set for a gloriously dark comedy, as taboo after taboo might be thrown out of the window, along with the characters' morals. Unfortunately, Babbit's direction has the comic timing of a drugged snail, making enjoyment of the film somewhat difficult.
The major problem with the film is the utterly bizarre way in which it is executed, a sort of cross between David Lynch and magical realism; this may sound like a recommendation, but all it does is to make the film virtually unwatchable, as the tone is one of shrill hysteria from the start, with character development seemingly being restricted to which actress can shout the loudest and shrillest. A funnier film might have had some ambiguity as to whether its central character was in fact a lesbian at all, thus making her parents' reaction one of genuine stupidity. However, Megan is clearly presented as gay from the outset, so the humour is immediately suppressed, instead relying on the weakest stereotypes imaginable. The presence of RuPaul as a 'cured' homosexual says it all, really.
The cast are mostly disappointing. Lyonne, a fine comic actress, is wasted in a role that mainly requires her to adopt an expression of surprise and/or horror, and to shout most of her lines in a high pitched voice. DuVall threatens to drag the film out of the campiness from time to time with a spirited turn as the 'bad girl lesbian', but even she can't do anything with a script that soon gives up any notions of a plot in favour of a tired procession of over-obvious skits and unfunny jokes about cheerleaders.
I suppose that I might have enjoyed this film more were I homosexual myself; however, I doubt it somehow. This may well be a film made for gay people, but I can't think that any self-respecting person, gay or straight, would actually want to be patronised by a film as weak and frivolous as this. It's not the worst film ever made by any means, and the Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack is a minor plus, but it's a very poor effort indeed, all things considered.
The anamorphic transfer is a fairly nice effort, although nothing spectacular. The dominant colour here is, unsurprisingly, pink, and the transfer does a good job of keeping the colours bright and colourful. However, there's a surprisingly high amount of grain throughout, and there's occasional shimmering in some of the scenes as well. Not a bad job, but not up to the standards of an A-list title by any means.
A Dolby Surround track is provided, which does the job about as well as you'd expect, given that the film is mainly dialogue-based. The nice soundtrack is fairly well presented, with some slight use of surround effects, but this is really a fairly unexceptional track, without anything to commend ir in any sense.
A trailer is provided, which gives a good idea of the weakness of the film, and there's some dull behind the scenes material, complete with witless comments from Babbit, who clearly thinks she's made the next Citizen Kane.
A weak film is presented on an unexceptional disc with weak extras. I can't believe anyone would really want to buy this film, given that it's obscure in subject matter and cast, and therefore I don't feel I really need to bother recommending that it's not worth watching.