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By | 2006-07-27T09:00:00-04:00 July 27th, 2006|Entertainment|

Compiled by Q Syndicate

Clerks II

Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) plans to move to Florida with his fiancee, Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach). But on his last day flipping burgers at Mooby’s, freedom seems like a mirage as he acknowledges his growing feelings for his boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), while dealing with the fallout from his best friend Randal’s (Jeff Anderson) verbal assaults on their customers. Twelve years have passed since writer-director Kevin Smith immortalized Dante and Randal in his feature debut, but neither character has evolved even a fraction. Put-upon Dante is still sweet and frustrated, while motor-mouthed Randal’s penchant for outrageous remarks remains. Profane, impudent in its devotion to the politically incorrect, and oddly romantic, this vulgar comedy is also one of the most purely hilarious movies of the year.

{ITAL Grade: A
Kinsey Scale: 2 (Ostensibly everyone is the movie is straight, but Randal comes across as deeply closeted, secretly in love with Dante, and seized by gay panic – something that comes out in his running commentary. Smith previously made the straight man/lesbian romance “Chasing Amy,” which O’Halloran and co-stars Jason Mewes, Ben Affleck, Ethan Suplee and Jason Lee appeared in. Dawson starred in “Rent” and “Alexander,” while co-star Wanda Sykes had a guest shot on “Will & Grace.”) }

Lady in the Water

When an otherworldly nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) appears at a Philadelphia apartment complex, building manager Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) and his tenants dedicate themselves to helping her return home, but first they must prevent a wolf-like creature from her world from killing her. A prologue suggests that the nymph arrives to save humanity, but if so, the movie never gets around to spinning that yarn. Based on a fairy tale that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan made up for his children, the story should have stayed in the family. The all-star cast is impressive, but the tale is woefully underwritten and makes little sense. Further undermining the enterprise are cheesy special effects and abrupt shifts in tone, veering wildly from the sentimental, to the horrific, to the unintentionally comic.

{ITAL Grade: C
Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Much of the cast has amassed queer credits. Bob Balaban played a gay movie producer in Gosford Park and also appeared in “Capote”; Sarita Choudhury had roles in Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me” and in “High Art”; Jared Harris was Andy Warhol in “I Shot Andy Warhol” and had a role in “Happiness”; Mary Beth Hurt appeared in “Boys Life 2” and “Six Degrees of Separation”; Bill Irwin co-starred in “The Laramie Project”; Freddy Rodriguez had a recurring role on “Six Feet Under”; and Jeffrey Wright starred in “Angels in America.”)
}

ALSO IN THEATERS:

A Scanner Darkly

Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover cop addicted to the drug he’s been assigned to eradicate, a fictional high known as “Substance D.” In his world are two highly verbose junkies (Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson) and a dealer (Winona Ryder) with whom he becomes involved. This is a visually trippy feature – director Richard Linklater used a process known as “rotoscoping,” in which live action is digitally painted, creating a strange new form of animation.

{ITAL Grade: B
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Downey’s haughty, drug-addled character can best be described as “effete,” yet not explicitly gay. Reeves played a hustler in Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho,” and Ryder starred in the gay-favorite cult comedy “Heathers.”)
}

Cars

Arrogant race car Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) lands in jail in tiny Radiator Springs. Sentenced to repave the highway, the lonely roadster begins to warm to the townsfolk, including cute Porsche Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt) and Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), a suspiciously speedy 1951 Hudson Hornet. But the novelty of friendship may not be enough to compete with the lure of fame awaiting Lightning at California’s Piston Cup race. Set along old Route 66, Pixar’s latest animated adventure offers astonishing southwestern landscapes and a big heart that beats with the piston-propelled rhythm of an internal combustion engine. The cars themselves are a little bland, but the voices are pitch-perfect and the vistas breathtaking in this funny, moving family film and loving homage to America’s Mother Road.

{ITAL Grade: A-
Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Wilson played a metrosexual male model in “Zoolander.” Newman had a long association with Tennessee Williams, starring in the writer’s work on stage and screen, including as the closeted Brick in the bowdlerized 1958 film adaptation of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Co-stars with queer credits include Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Paul Dooley, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Jeremy Piven, Richard Kind and Edie McClurg.) }

The Devil Wears Prada

Brainy but frumpy Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) hopes to jumpstart a journalism career when she becomes “Runway” magazine editor Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) assistant. What begins as a crash course in haute couture quickly evolves into an apprenticeship in Hades, as imperious Miranda demands round-the-clock availability from her new lackey. While Hathaway is the nominal star of this witty, if sometimes overly broad satire of high fashion and the workplace, she pales next to the formidable, hilarious Streep. She is a delight to watch, whether playing up Miranda’s catlike glee in toying with her underlings or emphasizing the woman’s instinct for the jugular. Her droll discourse on the place of cerulean blue in the fashion food chain alone is worth the price of admission.

{ITAL Grade: B+
Kinsey Scale: 2 (The movie never really acknowledges the strong gay presence and influence in fashion, and it is reticent on the sexuality of some characters, notably Miranda’s right-hand man, Nigel – played by Stanley Tucci – who is apparently gay. Streep has been in a number of queer-themed projects, most recently “Angels in America” and “The Hours,” and Hathaway was Jake Gyllenhaal’s unwitting beard in “Brokeback Mountain.”) }

Nacho Libre

Nacho (Jack Black) is a cook in a Mexican monastery and helps care for the orphans who live there. But he harbors a secret ambition of becoming a _ luchador_ – a masked wrestler – a dream he attempts to turn into a reality after he forms a tag team with fierce, rail-thin Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez). This woeful comedy is nearly as flabby as Black’s pitiful pectoral muscles, consisting mainly of flatulence jokes and sight gags involving the woefully out-of-shape Black poured into tights, as he pretends to wrestle a variety of opponents, from dwarfs to bruisers built like cement mixers. The humor is not merely weak; director Jared Hess and his co-screenwriters also overstuff their script with racist stereotypes.

{ITAL Grade: D
Kinsey Scale: 1 (Black appeared in an episode of “Will & Grace.” Among producer/co-screenwriter Mike White’s queer credits is “Chuck & Buck,” which he co-wrote and starred in. He is also openly bisexual and the son of gay activist minister Mel White.) }

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Flamboyant pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) seems destined to spend eternity in spectral servitude on the ocean floor when the monstrous Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) demands that he honor an old agreement. To escape his wretched fate, Sparrow – with help from old friends Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) – must capture Jones’ still-beating heart. The action rarely flags in this violent, swashbuckling adventure comedy that combines epic swordfights, light romance, cannibal hijinks, and ghostly shenanigans.

{ITAL Grade: B+
Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Jack Sparrow is straight, but with his eyeliner, satin, and lace, he is definitely a metrosexual of the high seas. Depp played transvestites in “Ed Wood” and the queer biopic “Before Night Falls,” and had one of his earliest starring movie roles in John Waters’ “Cry-Baby.”)}

Strangers with Candy

Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) is a 47-year-old high school freshman making a not very earnest attempt to start her life over after years of drug addiction and prison in this anything-goes comedy based on the cult TV show of the same name. The plot of this mock after-school special consists of Jerri trying to earn her catatonic father’s love by winning the science fair, but what the movie’s really about is showcasing Sedaris’ beyond-irreverent brand of humor. Nothing is sacred, and everyone winds up looking utterly ridiculous.

{ITAL Grade: B-
Kinsey Scale: 3 (Jerri is a bisexual character, even though it’s not a gay-themed film; and Sedaris is, of course, the sister of gay humorist David Sedaris.)}

Superman Returns

Picking up where “Superman 2” left off, The Man of Steel (Brandon Routh) returns to Earth after a futile attempt to search for the remains of his home planet, Krypton. What he finds back in Metropolis is a rejuvenated, evil-doing Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). Meanwhile, former love Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is raising a son with a new man (James Marsden) and giving Superman the cold shoulder. Naturally, this interpersonal drama takes a back seat to saving the world from Luthor’s maniacal schemes, which Superman does with all the heroism, humor, and humanity that’s been missing from so many recent superhero films. It’s a welcome return to the screen for a beloved character, and Bryan Singer’s skilled, affectionate direction keeps the effects and the emotions effortlessly balanced.

{ITAL Grade: A
Kinsey Scaled: 2 (Where to begin? Director Singer is openly gay; co-star Parker Posey is a Gen X queer screen icon; gay actor Jack Larson – TV’s Jimmy Olsen of the ’50s – plays a bartender; and Ian Roberts, the openly gay Australian rugby star, plays one of Luthor’s henchmen. Spacey has played gay, and rumors about his own sexuality have circled him for years.)}

You, Me and Dupree

Newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) have barely begun married life when Carl’s slacker best buddy Dupree (Owen Wilson) moves in. Molly’s initial hostility melts under the spell of her houseguest’s relentless stoner charm, sending Carl into a jealous frenzy after he becomes convinced that Dupree has designs on his bride.

{ITAL Grade: B-
Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Carl calls Dupree a “homo” when he discovers that his pal writes poetry. Though ostensibly straight, Dupree’s attachment to Carl sometimes seems more than merely platonic.)}

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.