Monday, December 10, 2007

Another Gay Movie,
Another Straight Movie...

I'm well again! Woo hoo!

It's fascinating when you see a film that's been famous a long time - you've formed an idea of what it will be like to watch, and actually seeing it often brings surprises.

On a lark, I gave in and watch 'Another Gay Movie' last week. This was after finally viewing the 1982 classic 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,' I said if I can watch a straight teen movie - however classic - I should see the gay equivalent. Then, since 'Gay Movie' is a close parody of 'American Pie,' I queued that up, too, and watched it Saturday night.

No '5 Parmeters' today, more a cross-cultural study. Though, I can't resist writing haikus...

Haiku (5/7/5):
'The backdoor pleasures
of satirizing satire
penetrate slowly'

A 'Mad Magazine' letter to the editor once said 'you can't satirize a satire,' referring to their parody of 'All in the Family.' But I assure you - yes you can can... But it's usually as fresh as a three-day old omelette. This movie is constantly winking and pointing at itself.

The twist with 'Gay Movie' is that, well, it's marketed to me. It certainly traffics heavily in stereotypes, and is twice as crude as it is clever.

Similar to 'Pie,' four friends who are high school seniors vow to lose their virginity before graduating. As in 'Pie', the foursome are sympathetic and quite cute, each in a different way. And like 'Pie,' they reach their goal after mishap, humiliation, and the maturing step of learning to be themselves.

'Gay Movie' does seize a possibility 'Pie' could not - two of the guys realize they're in love with each other.

The gay foursome here are not that sexually inexperienced - they've chosen to define 'losing their virginity' as anal penetration. Now, I've always found it odd that straight people who've done oral sex and been naked in bed together to the point of orgasms still consider themselves 'virgins' if they haven't had intercourse. This distinction definitely blurs in the gay world - where anal is to sex what beef is to meat - some live on beef, some mix it up plenty with chicken and pork, some eat red meat rarely or never.

'Gay Movie' doesn't flinch at discussing gay sex terminology or at lampooning some of the more exotic flora and fauna of gay sexual life, which makes it an interesting cultural milestone, however cartoonish and crude it can be. Of course, 'Gay Movie' had to parody Eugene Levy's hilarious take in 'Pie' as a sweet but hapless father trying embarrassingly to provide his son, the main character, with cringe-inducing sexual guidance. Here 'Gay Movie' pushes the envelope in interesting new directions. They also casted drag queen Lypsinka as the main character's mother, but she seems like she wandered in from an early John Waters film...

Haiku (5/7/5):
'A well-cooked sex farce
must taste tangy, sweet and sour;
easy to digest'

'American Pie' is much higher quality than I'd imagined, particularly after seeing the low-budget 'Gay Movie.'

Since it's just parody, not parody-of-parody, it isn't winking and self-referential. It creates a convincing universe. You laugh at the these guys but you care about them, their feelings, and their relationships.

They're meant to be 'Everykid' - they're ultimately very nice and decent, maybe too much for high school - though an obnoxious jerk named Stifler holds the banner of sophomoric malevolence suitably high (and gets his comeuppance in a manner sure to satisfy straight and gay audiences alike).

The brilliant Eugene Levy's above-mentioned turn as the father is a cinema classic. In fact, 'Pie' does a great cultural service if even 1 out of 100 teenagers is driven to check out Levy's hilarious grown-up work in 'Best In Show,' 'A Mighty Wind' and 'Waiting for Guffman.'

I missed the characters after the end of the movie.

Though probably not enough to see the endless sequels - 'American Pie Presents: Band Camp.' :- ) Good grief, Charlie Brown...

Haiku (5/7/5):
'Between two decades
an undefined shadowland;
teens work, play, and romp'

In the summer of 1982, the 70s were slowly turning into the 80s, and college-boy Aaron was slowly turning into work-force Aaron. I spent many late nights that summer in gay clubs dancing to disco mixed with new-wave synth-pop (Human League, Soft Cell) that was months away from a complete takeover of pop culture. I had little interest in straight sex comedies. But 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' is a time capsule, and a classic. It subtly pokes fun at not just sex and relationships, but also school and part-time jobs. The sex is less explicit, but honest - one teenage girl has two very unsatisfying experiences and an abortion before learning to love an insecure guy with a heart of gold. But there are no central characters - it's a kaleidoscope of vignettes. Note that three future Best Actor winners appear in roles of varying size: Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, and Forrest Whitaker would bring home the statue 13, 22, and 24 years later, respectively. Penn is the most visible, as a pothead surfer dude who spars with a persnickety history teacher (Ray Walston, star of the of 'My Favorite Martian' 1960s TV Series).

Cartoons du Jour:

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