Saturday, February 6, 2021

But I'm a Cheerleader

Movie Name:
But I'm a Cheerleader
Year of Release: 1999
Director: Jamie Babbit
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Clea Duvall, Cathy Moriarty, Melanie Lynskey, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, RuPaul Charles, Michelle Williams, Eddie Cibrian, Katrina Phillips, Katharine Towne, Joel Michaely, Kip Pardue, Dante Basco, Brandt Wille, Robert Pine, Julie Delpy, Richard Moll, Wesley Mann 
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After directing a few shorts and some episodes of MTV's "Undressed", director Jamie Babbit made her directorial debut with "But I'm a Cheerleader" which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 1999, but was also showcased at the Sundance Film Festival of 2000. The film follows the story of Megan, a high school senior, who is a cheerleader, and all around amiable student. Unbeknownst to her however, her boyfriend, some of her friends from school and her parents, stage an intervention, since they fear Megan is turning into a lesbian. Afraid of being abandoned by all, Megan agrees to go to this "sexual redirection" school, run by Mary Brown, with the assistance of an ex-gay man, Mike. Upon arrival Megan is introduced to the other participants, all going through the same "education", including Graham, a young woman to whom Megan is very much drawn to. As everyone gets to know each other, Megan progressively realizes more about herself, her wants and needs, eventually coming to terms with whom she actually is.
"But I'm a Cheerleader" is a film filled with good intentions and some good humor. It puts a very different spin on conversion therapy centers, opting to turn Mary Brown's school, into an etiquette and proper manners school very reminiscent of the America of the 1950s. The film obviously ridicules the whole concept of forcing someone to act against their true nature, and by extent, pokes fun at Mary Brown's school and she herself,  who very insistently drives her students to abide to clich├ęs of what genders are suppose to behave as. It's a film that is very slight in story (and budget), but nonetheless, one that is filled with heart and humor. Sadly, though it borders on going to some dark aspects of conversion therapy centers, or families rejecting some of their own solely for refusing to accept who they are, it shies away of doing so, choosing instead to make this story more about a young woman's journey of self discovery and falling in love. It's very much a romantic comedy, but one without enough conviction to embrace both its kitschy and its romantic side. The cast does keep it interesting, particularly the always great Natasha Lyonne, with great support from Cathy Moriarty, Clea Duvall, Mink Stole, Bud Cort, RuPaul, Michelle Williams and Melanie Lynskey. Though it's a bit roughly assembled, it's still watchable courtesy of a great cast.