Good & Bad

How do you know when you're gay? It's not unusual to have a blind spot or complete denial about some aspect of our selves. When it's about something as fundamental as sexual identity, then it'll likely make a mess of things before it's resolved. Such are the makings of film.

Inspired by an Oscar speech that outed someone's high school teacher, the twist here is that the teacher doesn't think he's gay. Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is, in fact, about to get married. The press jumps into his simple small-town life, and people get a bit upset over it all, not the least being Howard himself.

Every gay cliché in the book is trotted out in this one, with Barbra Streisand being a repeat offender. It would unquestionable trite except for Kline's performance, which walks the line between the simple humor that forms the basis of the film, while being honest to the character he has built for himself.

If you can accept the broad-based Hollywood approach, the film will go down easy. Fight it, and there's a struggle ahead of you... The strengths and weaknesses here are essentially the opposite of a Will & Grace, but they both operate in that same world of stereotype. Don't look at either for deeper truths.

My biggest problem is the ending in the high school auditorium. I hate the crowd-borne wave of sentimentality, the appeal to popular opinion, which many films mistake for a climax. And while it's an appropriate choice here, in certain respects, it still rankles. They smooth it over with the same comic veneer that coats the whole film, and if you like the rest, it can be overlooked.

I like the film, much like a puff pastry. Pleasant and light, but not filling.

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