...But Im a Cheerleader

dir Jamie Babbit scr Brian Wayne Peterson
with Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Cathy Moriarty, RuPaul Charles, Eddie Cibrian, Dante Basco, Brandt Willie, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, Julie Delpy, Melanie Lynskey, Richard Moll
99/US 4 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
Bright, colourful and very funny, But I'm a Cheerleader takes no prisoners in its politically uncorrect spoof of 12-step rehab programmes. Clever dialog, witty performances and sly innuendo all combine to keep us chuckling out loud. At the centre is Megan (Lyonne) a model student, head cheerleader, dating the football captain. And yet her family and friends all think she's a lesbian. So they ship her off to True Directions to be cured. Her response: "I'm not perverted. I get good grades, I go to church, I'm a cheerleader!"

As the film lampoons self-help systems, aversion therapy, gender identity and the causes of homosexuality, it also touches some honest nerves involving self-image and parental expectations. And all of the characters transcend their comic surfaces to become people we can root for in various ways, right up to the Graduate-like finale. Moriarty is especially funny as the frustrated, short-tempered housemother. And the tentative romance between the squeaky-clean Megan and the surly Graham (DuVall) is surprisingly touching. But this is a satire, and as such it's terrifically well made from garish sets and deadpan performances to the hilarious song score and layered script--all of which transcend the low budget to actually reach out and grab us. It succeeds brilliantly at its main goal: to make us laugh. And along the way we're surprised by the thoughtful issues gurgling under the surface.

[adult themes, language] 3.Apr.00
US release 7.Jul.00; UK release 9.Mar.01

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"Quite an interesting movie. Although it can and must be said that the set and costuming not only helped make the movie but played such an intricate part that it cannot be ignored, I can also say that that is what ended up taking away from the movie to me. I know that is simply my opinion, and that the movie would not have been the same without its necessary amounts of pink and blue, but even so.... More importantly, I just wanted to stress that the accuracy of the relationship development between Graham and Megan (DuVall and Lyonne) is verbatim, as I experienced the same thing. Watching them together in the movie was at times like watching my own life. It actually moved me to tears. Of course, part of what moved me was the influence the music had on their love scene. That song was breathtaking, and I have yet to find what it is called." --Madeline, net.

"It is definitely one of my top ten movies for all time. I think it was actually the one movie that really shoved me 'out of the closet', so to speak. It is great on so many levels and I just wanted to respond to the reader review by Madeline. I also cried during the movie. I thought I was dumb for crying, but at the end when Megan did her cheer for Graham, I lost it. Everytime I watch it now I almost cry. That is my favorite part of the whole movie! Well, I just wanted to share that and I know this was probably written like a year ago, but the song that is playing when Graham and Megan have their love scene is called Glass Vase Cello Case and is by a little folk duo called Tattle Tale. I don't know where their CDs are available. I've been looking everywhere, but I downloaded a lot of their songs off of Napster and they are awesome." --Cameran, net 15.Oct.01

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall