But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

(On VHS, July 2001) It’s not because it’s a lesbian teen romance that it’s necessarily more interesting! While the initial potential of the film is interesting enough (a girl with lesbian tendencies is sent to a “rehabilitation camp”), the treatment is hampered not only by a low budget, but also a low imagination. The true satiric potential of the premise is barely scratched, almost as if everyone was afraid to really push the limits of the idea. While the romance between the two leads (a cute Natasha Lyonne and the ever-wonderful Clea Duvall) is very sweet, it definitely sucks energy from the comedy and the result is not only harmless, but a bit boring too. The cast of characters at the camp should have been a limitless reservoir of comedy, but instead the caricatures are too broad and too lazy to be interesting. (While the girls aren’t all necessarily butch, all the guys are clichéd gay stereotypes that are immediately recognizable as real film characters, not real characters.) There are a few inspired moments (the “gay underground railroad”) but the rest isn’t nearly as interesting as it should have been. Very quickly, I can see two ways in which the film could have been improved: A> with a re-write by Kevin Smith (heresy!), or B> as a full-blown hard-core porn film. In the meantime, well, it’s a disappointment. Don’t be surprised if the end leaves a considerable number of threads untied.

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