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  But I'm a Cheerleader  
  The Kushner-Locke Company  
  Jamie Babbit  
  Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, Cathy Moriarty, RuPaul  
Release Date:
  July 7, 2000  
Reviewed by:
  The Priestess  

You know, I never step foot in a theatre. So, I waited until this one came out on video. In retrospect, it would have been worth paying $7.50 (or whatever ungodly amount they're charging these days) to see it sooner. In fact, I'll likely add it to my personal collection, which includes such other surreal classics as Head and Edward Scissorhands. I like surrealism in my movies... never bought into suspension of disbelief anyway, so why not indulge in the unbelievable? What I find is that many surreal films have very real truths under the surface. If you like John Waters films, you know what I mean, and this film is very much influenced by John Waters. This is an impressive feature film debut for Jamie Babbit (TV's Popular) as both director and writer.

The story line is simple. Megan Williams, played by Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, Slums of Beverly Hills), is a cheerleader. She's every bit the stereotypical teenage girly-girl... except that she doesn't like the slobbery kisses of her tongue-happy, football-playing boyfriend, she's a vegetarian, and she has a Melissa Ethridge poster. So, of course, she must be a lesbian! At least, that's what her parents, boyfriend, and friends tell her in an intervention. So, her parents, played by Bud Cort (Harold & Maude) and Mink Stole (Hairspray), pack her up and ship her off to True Directions. True Directions is run by Mary J. Brown, played by Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull, Little Pieces), with the help of a man played by RuPaul Charles (do you really need a reminder who he/she is?!). It is a rehabilitation facility where teenagers learn their "appropriate" gender roles and graduate to become "ex-homosexuals." However, a couple of ex-ex-homosexuals formerly with the True Directions clan complicate the program by showing the teens that they have a choice between hiding their true sexuality to fit in or just being themselves. One of the ex-ex-homosexuals is played by Richard Moll (with hair), formerly Nostradamus "Bull" Shannon (without hair) on TV's sitcom Night Court (1984-1992). His significant other is adorably portrayed by Wesley Mann, who played the caterpillar in TV's Adventures in Wonderland (1991). Kudos to Sheila Jaffe and Georgianne Walken for their brilliant casting all around! Another notable performance is delivered by Clea Duvall (The Faculty) as Graham Eaton, an unrepentant lesbian who's only "working the program" to please her rich, disownment-threatening father. She's not only a good actress... she's also pretty easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean. Hummina hummina hummina!

The casting is not the only brilliant thing about this film. The script is exquisitely wry, pointing in so many ways to the absurdity of the movement to convert homosexuals, particularly vulnerable teens, into something they are not: heterosexual. Reviews for the film were mixed, even among my household. But I'm a Cheerleader is certainly not subtle in the least. After all, its original working title was "Homo Rehab" (see: Nonetheless, this one had that special something real buried in the surreal that I like so much in a film. The soundtrack is also very good. I can't get that one song lyric out of my head: "Are you still... breathing?" If you see the film, you'll understand why.

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