gay lovers find themselves minding an atypical 11-year-old
Based on the book by Michael Downing and adapted for the screen by Sean Reycraft, this warm and gentle comedy has all the ingredients of a crowd-pleaser and thankfully in avoiding certain narrative pitfalls emerges as a winner, much to the furore of Christian rights movement who took exception to a film that it viewed as 'promoting homosexualisation of small children.' And that fact that the Canadian National Hockey League granted its producers unprecedented permission to use its name and logos only riled them more!
Yet what is does promote is the story of Eric and Sam, lovers of the long-term variety, who find their lives turned upside down upon the arrival of Sam's nephew Scot, due to the sudden drugs related death of his mother. Finding themselves temporary foster dads awaiting the 'due any day now' arrival of Scot's official guardian Billy, Eric is determined that his life is not going to change. Only how can it not do, when a former professional ice hockey player turned sports commentator realises that he's minding an atypical 11-year-old into musicals, makeup and Christmas songs - sung out of season! Now you don't think he could be gay - do you?
Whilst in many ways pure family entertainment, this engaging work from director Laurie Lynd nevertheless touches upon the serious issues of gay parenting and being out in the sporting arena, let alone the grieving process itself. Yet it does so in a heartwarming and uplifting way, filled as it is with elements of drama, comedy and pathos, coupled with the underlying theme of to thy ownself be true.
For that is the crux of the story, given that whilst ex Toronto Maple Leafs star Eric McNally fronts a hetero façade to the world at large and inparticular in the direction of his boss, Scot on the other hand is open with his emotions, prone as he is to kissing both the girls and the boys. To that end Noah Bernett hits all the right notes in his portrayal of the effeminate hero of the piece, showing vulnerability one moment and sartorial confidence the next, along the way challenging stereotypes by refusing to detail the precise sexual nature of his flamboyant self. That Ben Shenkman of Angels in America fame as Eric's partner Sam is more than happy to let Scot embrace his feminine side, goes against the grain of a character finely played by Tom Cavanagh, namely a man fighting a losing battle to conceal the true nature of his sexuality.
Well-shot throughout, Lynd wisely opts for the resolution of Eric's in-the-closet lifestyle to not overshadow the central father and son relationship of the piece. And whilst the 'save the gay kiss till last' scene was guaranteed as much as the somewhat cheesy finale, the predictable outcome to Scot's future is still touching, given both the film and the boy himself are right little charmers. Wonderful.
screened as part of the 22nd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2008
starring: Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman, Noah Bernett, Graham Greene, Megan Follows, Jeananne Goossen, Robin Brûlé,
Alexander Franks, Dylan Everett, Vanessa Thompson, Shauna MacDonald, Colin Cunningham, Anna Silk