Sunday, 23 May 2010

Inside Out 2010: Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!

Oy Vey! My Son is Gay! opens with a clever animation that establishes the plot: parents Shirley and Martin (Lainie Kazan and Saul Rubinek) trying to fix up their son Nelson (John Lloyd Young), with a nice Jewish girl. Little do they know though, that Nelson is gay and in a relationship with Angelo (Jai Rodriguez), and complications arise when Shirley misinterprets a situation and thinks that her son is involved with his neighbour Sybil (Carmen Electra).

Nelson eventually comes out to his parents sending them into shock and acceptance (of sorts). In an attempt to understand their son, Shirley urges Martin to go to a gay bar, they both go see an “expert” on homosexuality, Shirley invites a couple from a gay organization home to learn about their lives…all of this sounds extremely funny, but the scenes were frustratingly stilted. The inclusions of mock television news commentary on gay life were baffling and contrived, and the story wrapped so quickly that I couldn’t understand the way time was supposed to pass in the film.

Shirley (Kazan) can accept the thought that her son is engaged to a non-Jewish, centerfold, but not the thought of him marrying a “schwarze” (black woman). I don’t understand why this line of thinking is even included in the movie. If the film was going to be edgy and push boundaries, I could understand the bigotry; I’m not offended by a character’s expression of their true selves. The problem I have with the line is the problem I have with the whole film: there doesn’t seem to be a clear comic focus. The film is not fast-paced enough to be a farce, the dialogue is not clever enough to be a social satire, and it’s written like an extended sit-com instead of a light, energetic comedy.

I smiled watching the film, but I didn’t laugh and this film's premise should have had me rolling on the floor. I appreciated the fresh idea of depicting the “coming out” story from the parents' perspective, and Kazan and Rubinek have great chemistry but first-time director, Evgeny Afineevsky (also one of the writers) just didn't seem to know how to pace the film to show off his amazingly cast. He couldn't have asked Emmy Award-winning comic writer, Bruce Villanch (Uncle Max) to help doctor the script? And how can you have “Big Pussy” (Vincent Pastore) from the Sopranos in a gay film and not camp it up as much as possible? Argh!

Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!
Monday, May 24th, 2:30 pm
Isabel Bader Theatre
Box Office: 416-967-1528

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