Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheerleading Gone Mediocre: But I'm A Cheerleader Underwhelms, Despite A Good Idea.

The Good: Funny, Satirical, Interesting plot.
The Bad: Predictable, Questionable acting, Uninspired characters
The Basics: A VERY soft recommendation FOR the film based on the fact that it was funny and the genre deserves exposure. There are better LGB films.

Quite a while ago, I was hanging out with friends and family and we were debating what movie to go see. Most everyone I was with wanted to go see Gladiator. I piped up by saying, "How about that movie But I'm A Cheerleader." From there, I described what I knew about it and I made a strong case. I ended up losing and we ended up seeing that horrible film Gladiator. I finally got around to seeing But I'm A Cheerleader and even with the problems I had with it, it's still a far far better film than Gladiator.

But I'm A Cheerleader focuses on Megan, a young woman in high school who is a cheerleader and dating a Varsity football player. Her religiously fanatical family suspects her of being a homosexual and they send her to True Directions, a camp that focuses on "re-educating" gays so they can be heterosexual and "normal." At the camp, in a rather obvious turn, Megan begins to wonder if she actually is a lesbian and the film goes from there.

The strengths of the film are in the idea and the level of satire. This is a funny film and it does it tastefully. More than that, the characters and plot are done with such deadpan earnestness that the dogma of True Directions is delivered so seriously, it's hard to make out sometimes what direction the film is intending to go, as opposed to where it truly is. The smothering of the characters (and the viewers) in pastel colors and gender/sexuality stereotypes leads to a deeper level of irony and satire. The film works well there and the plot - actually looking at these camps - is interesting.

This is also where the film falls down, though. The deluge of pastels and stereotypes works to the film's disadvantage. The reasoning Megan, when figuring out she could be lesbian, uses is specious. The characters are each a caricature of an aspect of homosexuality and several of them go so over the top that it becomes distracting from both the humor and purpose of the film.

This creates special problems when evaluating the acting. Megan is such a glazed look, stereotypical blonde that it's hard to tell if her character is do ditzy or the acting is just plain horrible. This comes in with some of the other actors as well, but as the focus is on Megan, it's distracting the sheer number of times I, as a viewer, did a double-take wondering if her character was supposed to be doing what she was or if the actress was bad.

All in all, the film is very average and my recommendation is a soft one. Fans of gay and lesbian films will probably be disappointed by this one. The difficulty of it is that it tries too hard. The film is trying so hard to make a statement that it fails to actually be funny at times or keep an edge of realism. The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls In Love, while possessing some inherent camp quality, succeeds because the dialogue is excellent and the characters are very realistic. In But I'm A Cheerleader there is a lack of emphasis on love, passion and intelligent spoken words. Thus, the film comes across as a poster or a photograph; making a statement, but lacking in vitality and empathy. In the end, all the characters are flat.

For other socially interesting movies, please check out my reviews of:
Strawberry And Chocolate
Valentine's Day
Memoirs Of A Geisha


For other movie reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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