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Bobby is a gay man in the closet in 2003, afraid to come out to his three older brothers, even though he's at least 30 and is being pressed by his sister, his boyfriend, and his lesbian beard to tell the lads. The death of his father and a fishing trip with his brothers provide occasions when he could tell them, but he fails. When he screws his courage to the sticking point, how will they react, and how will he deal with their reactions? He imagines a movie of his rather boring life - surrounded by possibilities - but can anything overcome the insular narrow-mindedness of a big Irish Catholic family in Chicago? Written by
Forced Comedy Elements Trivialize a Coming-Out Tale in a Chicago Irish Catholic Family
I have to give credit to Pete Jones, who wrote, directed and starred in this low-budget 2004 indie, for having the temerity to make a coming-out film when he is apparently straight. And therein lies the rub since Jones doesn't really lend an informed perspective to his protagonist's trying situation. He plays Bobby Riley, a Chicago advertising account executive who happens to be gay and happily partnered. He also happens to come from a traditional Irish-Catholic family, a sister who knows he's gay and three brothers who don't. The movie is primarily about Bobby's struggle to come out to his brothers now that their father has just passed away and the time has come for their annual fishing trip together. While one can envision how Bobby's admission would lead to liberation and tolerance, Jones also superficially belabors Bobby's angst to the aggravating point of making me indifferent to his fate.
A lot of the problem I had with the movie is the predictable and often forced humor Jones employs to ingratiate the character to the viewer. In what strikes me as film-making laziness, he goes as far as breaking the fourth wall, speaking to the camera, and using freeze-frames to either provide thumbnail sketches of the principal characters or comment on the action. The set-up with the brothers is also pretty generic as they represent variations on the beer-guzzling stereotypes one would expect from a movie at least forty years older. Two are married - Luke is a pothead with twin daughters, and Connor is a John Sununu look-alike who surfs the Web for porn. Oldest brother Jack is a Catholic priest, which sets him up for the most challenging road toward acceptance. Once the key revelation occurs, the inevitable ramifications at least allow for the film's few honest moments, the most effective being Luke's angry voicemail message in response to what he sees as Bobby's betrayal.
In his acting debut, the cherubic Jones makes little impression as the bedeviled Bobby. Nathan Fillion, who would later play the smitten doctor in the late Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress", fares the best among the actors portraying the brothers, and Michael McDonald of "MADtv" (not the singer) is surprisingly credible as Bobby's partner Andy. Julie Pearl is forced to play Bobby's sister Maggie as the nagging voice of conscience in order to facilitate the contrived plot conceit that proves disappointing toward the end. Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm", "I Want to Someone to Eat Cheese With") shows up in a cameo as a blowhard agency honcho trying to recruit Bobby believing him to be straight. I appreciate how Jones does not wrap everything up nicely at the end, although he sadly uses a stereotypical fantasy swimming number to get his point across. The much-delayed 2007 DVD features a commentary track from Jones, interviews and deleted scenes.
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