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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » But I'm a Cheerleader
But I'm a Cheerleader
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 22, 2003
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted July 12, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Coming of age movies have always been an opportunity for a director or screenwriter to put on display their own youthful experiences. Most of us have had some moment when we were growing up that reflects whom we became as adults. This is true whether or not we were jocks, nerds, brainiacs, or any other cliché that represents a group in high school. But I'm A Cheerleader takes a look at sexual identity questions in a similar light.

The movie follows the misadventures of a gal, (Natasha Lyonne), who is sent to a special school when her uptight parents think she might be a lesbian. While she's never really shown any major lesbian tendencies, they are afraid that if they don't act immediately, she'll be lost (and damned) forever. They send her to what amounts to a concentration camp run by a major hag, (Cathy Moriarty), with the knowledge that if she doesn't turn straight, she'll be on her own (a common theme of this movie). Once pressed to the wall, she actually develops lesbian desires, or at least comes out of the closet, and starts a relationship with a roommate, (Clea DuVall). The movie is a send up to straight and gay clichés alike, poking fun at both groups with abandon.

I liked the acting of most of the cast here with the leads being well suited for the roles. Some may find fault with the manner in which said cast overacts at times, it is a comedy after all, but they seemed to have fun with the material and screenwriter Brian Wayne Peterson and director Jamie Babbit give them. Part of the street smart nature of the movie is how the clichés are taken and amplified to the point of absurdity-in effect taking them back from gaybashers everywhere. Cathy Moriaty and RuPaul provide perhaps the most straightforward performances but the show was stolen by Lyonne and, to a lesser extent, DuVall.

The technical stuff wasn't quite as well developed as I'd have liked-it was a low budget independent movie after all, but the themes weren't lost on terrible production values (most of the movie used amplified colors and camera angles which support the material in a less than subtle manner). In a related note, the idea of some form of indoctrination to "cure" gays and turn them straight might well appeal to certain people but it's complete and utter nonsense-you're either gay or you're not (and if you can't handle it, there's a closet for you to hide in).

The soundtrack was exceptionally fun as well with a bunch of offbeat, but very cute songs to fit the story. The score was typically minimalist which made me wonder if the director was specifically shooting for something that I didn't quite catch too. I think it worked better than the oversaturated colors and the sometimes obscure references (from names to locations and a whole lot of the dialogue).

I think the dvd is worth a Recommendation, especially given it's low price, as the combination of story, music, acting and other aspects here were good enough to rate it as such. The satire here was sometimes biting and other times sly with an uneven mix at times but enough hits to qualify as worth checking out.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. The colors were too rich at times and there was a darkness that might've been intentional but was distracting. Not a great looking picture for what amounts to a pretty weird comedy.

Sound: The sound was presented in English stereo with some separation between the channels. Not bad for the budget but on a high end system, the flaws stood out. There were also English and Spanish subtitles included.

Extras: The only extra included was a trailer for the movie. I didn't get a copy of the dvd case so I can't say whether or not there was an insert. I was disappointed in the extras because it's widely known that the movie was edited to receive an "R" rating. The deleted footage would've made for a good extra, as would an audio commentary to help explain some of the more obscure references here.

Final Thoughts: The movie itself had it's share of goofs (and goof-ups) but still managed to overcome them and the technical faux pas. The pokes at gays and straights alike were pretty evenhanded and the content was enough to check out if you're not offended by sexual humor, gay themes, and anti-religious comments.

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