Young at heart

By |2006-05-25T09:00:00-04:00May 25th, 2006|Entertainment|

In its cutesy attempt to erase the pedophilic stereotypes that plague gay, single men, “Say Uncle,” Peter Paige’s (“Queer As Folk”) directorial film debut, falters as a preachy endeavor that’s neither funny nor successfully dramatic.
It’s the endearing performance from Paige, whose rubber facial features can go from dramatically teary-eyed to cutesy-wootsy in a finger snap, that almost saves the film from falling flat like an amateur drag queen in high-heels.
Paige plays Paul Johnson, a gay artist and a big kid who’s not ready to flee his Kids ‘R Us stage. Shortly into the film, jovial Paul is jumping up and down on his godson Morgan’s bed.
“Quit jumping on the bed you two,” Morgan’s mom yells. From twirling in the park, to playing blocks and reading night-night stories, it’s clear Paul’s relationship with Morgan transcends a simple friendship. He loves Morgan as a child of his own.
When Paul’s closest friends, the Fabers, decide to pack it up and move to Japan, he loses the one li’l man he found joy and innocence in: Morgan. Although they’re not related, Morgan refers to Paul as his uncle and when the family moves, Paul heads into a downward spiral.
He shifts into denial, visits the new couple that moved into what used to be the Fabers’ home and confuses them for the babysitters even though the Faber’s belongings are gone. He also makes pit stops at the local playground and binges on powdered donuts.
Russell (Anthony Clark), his friend and love interest, urges him to get out and meet some new children. So Paul gets a job at “Toys For Boys ‘N’ Girls,” frolics with the children on the playground and considers adoption. But when judgmental mother Maggie (Kathy Najimy) finds out Paul is gay, single and doesn’t have children, she jumps to the conclusion that he’s a pedophile.
While “Say Uncle” succeeds in its last third, it’s utterly predictable since Paul’s actual motive is evident from the start. And like many films that try to blend humor with drama and toss in a loose love story, “Say Uncle” doesn’t offer anything new besides a cheesy look at the immature child that lives inside of Paul’s noggin.
Whenever he dislikes someone, from the woman who denies his adoption request, his boss or the parents chasing him down the street in the opening shot, Paul imagines drawing devil horns and clown noses on them. Sure there’s much to hate about these people. The adoption agent won’t let Paul adopt because he recently lost his job as a telemarketer and his boss who fired him called him a “freak,” for example. But it’s still a cheap trick that adds nothing to “Say Uncle” and makes it look lower budget than it already is.
Najimy’s character is obviously annoying. She rallies up the neighborhood and TV news outlets, convincing the naive parents that there’s a child molester prowling the streets. She plays Maggie convincingly as the mother who will go to extremes for her son, but hearing her repeat “he fits the profile” for the umpteenth time felt forced and preachy.
“Say Uncle” tries to shove its message down your throat, and rarely lets up with overly sweet lines and the so-dramatic-it’s-funny premise. It’s about as endearing as reading a Hallmark card.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.