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Say Uncle

Posted by martinteller on September 12, 2011

A gay man with a love for children gets accused of pedophilia.  There’s a couple of problems here.  One is that if Peter Paige (writer/director/star) is trying to make a point, he’s doing a piss-poor job of it.  The message is rather unclear.  At one point he seems to be saying that parents shouldn’t be so uptight about letting men play with their kids, and later seems to be emphasizing that it’s gay men in particular who are demonized, and then he compounds the issue by making the protagonist unbearably stupid and naive (adding hints of mental disturbance didn’t help one bit).  He tries to mitigate it by saying “I know I made some mistakes” at the end, but that only ends up confusing the message more.  I did appreciate that there was some complexity to it, but it was just too muddled.  Also, the second act involves a lot of repeating the same points over and over again and feels sluggish.  I think the largest problem is the Kathy Najimy character.  Paige paints her (this is an extremely clever pun if you’ve seen the movie) with a very broad brush: she has knee-jerk reactions, blows things way out of proportion, tells lies to whip up hysteria, has mechanical sex with her husband, isn’t a very good parent.  This is a character who belongs in a much more satirical comedy, something like Citizen Ruth.  She doesn’t match the quieter (and not terribly funny) humor of the rest of the film.  However, it’s not all bad.  Despite a low-budget production (right here in Portland) it feels pretty professional, and the performances are good, even when the characters aren’t very well written.  The film is somewhat pleasant to watch, despite the subject matter.  And I really did enjoy the complexity and that it wasn’t as broad as it could have been, if only the Najimy character had been toned down.  Overall, though, it’s a near miss.  Rating: Fair


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