A while back I featured the gay indie You Should Meet My Son as a Queer Corner Spotlight. It was making a hefty impact on the gay film festival circuit. Keith Hartman (the movie’s writer and director) contacted Queer Corner recently with news of the movie’s several festival awards and impending DVD release. He also sent over a preview copy of the DVD. So I took a gander and here are some of my thoughts on the film…
The movie begins with Conservative Southern widow Mae Davis (Joanne McGee) and her sister, Rose (Carol Goans), parading Mae’s 30-year-old son, Brian (Stewart Carrico), before a series of hopeful bachelorettes as his “roommate” Dennis sits smirking beside him. So when Mae discovers through ease-dropping that her only son is gay, she has a small breakdown before deciding to switch gears and find her son a husband instead. The crux of the film consists of a Mae and Rose’s Excellent Adventure of sorts through the gay and drag queen community.
Hartman is an award winning author (The Gumshoe, The Witch, and The Virtual Corpse) who’s only film credits include a few popular satiric shorts about the Prop 8 vote in California, but he successfully transfers that sharp wit into his first feature. Son is chock full of heart and witty dialog and Hartman’s script somehow puts a new twist on an old tale.
Operating in the same comedic thread as Sordid Lives and The Birdcage, Son does showcase some pretty clichéd LGBT-related images. The conservative mother crying hysterically over the discovery that her son is gay. A metrosexual, yet still masculine male, who thinks his mother would have a heart attack if she discovered he’s gay. An overly sexualized gay bar complete with gogo boys, drag queens and leather daddies (though it’s highly unlikely you’d find all of these in a small town gay bar). And there’s even a drag queen makeover of a unsuspecting straight female. But Hartman’s delightful cast adds striking nuance to what could have been an ensemble of caricatures.
At the center of film and the movie’s most endearing quality is McGee as the affable Mae. McGee puts in a beautiful and often hilarious performance as a mother who discovers that she all she wants is her son to be happy, and will go to nearly any lengths to make it so. She and Carrico share one of the sweetest scenes I’ve ever seen in indie queer cinema when she says, “If this world won’t give you the things that you want — love, kids, a family — then I am going to have to change the world, because I will not have it change you!”
McGee and Groans as also the film’s highlight, a hoot as a senior Laverne and Shirley-like comedic team. And a third act dinner party with Mae and Rose’s new friends from their gay bar adventures features a lot of overacting, but is entertaining to say the least.
I did think the movie suffered a bit from operating on extremes. A second act reveal from Brian that threw me for a bit of a loop, seemed unnecessary, but it did introduce a new character (Ginger Pullman’s vapid, yet infectious Jennie Sue) into the mix that was definitely entertaining. And the surprise appearance of a nude George Bush painting at the end, though intriguing, was distracting and took too much time away from the storyline.
But as someone who grew up and still lives in a very backwards, non-progressive small town, Hartman offered some very real and relatable moments in Mae and Rose’s reactions to their many discoveries throughout the film. (A scene where the sisters are trying to figure out the internet could have easily been a direct reference to my own computer illiterate mother and aunts!) And as any successful movie always does, it not only made me laugh, but it touched an emotional chord. I found myself wishing that the Mae’s and Rose’s in my life would go on similar journeys of self-realization and acceptance.
You Should Meet My Son was released on DVD today and is a heartfelt and hilarious comedy you should definitely add to you queer cinema collection.
Check out the film’s trailer below: