Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reverend’s Reviews: We Are Family

The social and political debate over what or, more accurately, who constitutes a family is reaching its crescendo as Election Day looms. With propositions in both California and Arizona threatening to forever bar same-sex couples from marrying through constitutional amendments, we as GLBT people are called to defend our relationships and rights more than ever before.

Two fine movies opening across the country over the next few weeks, Breakfast with Scot and Saving Marriage, have perfectly timed release dates. Although one is a fictional comedy and the other a documentary, they complement each other well as statements in defense of same-sex marriage and families.

Breakfast with Scot (being released by Regent Releasing/here! Films tomorrow in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and expanding from there) comes to the screen touting one impressive credential: it is the first gay-themed film to be officially sanctioned by a professional sports league, the National Hockey League. Tom Cavanagh (of TV’s Ed) plays Eric, an ex-pro hockey player who has since found fame as Canada’s star sportscaster. Although closeted at work, Eric is gay and has a longtime partner, Sam (Ben Shenkman, who played Louis in the HBO production of Angels in America).

Their comfortable life together threatens to unravel, however, when Scot, the 11-year old son of Sam’s brother’s recently deceased girlfriend, is unexpectedly placed in their custody. Scot (the very talented Noah Bernett) is given to sudden emotional outbursts, wearing women’s cosmetics to school and singing Christmas carols year-round. In short, he’s more comfortable in his skin than either of his new “foster daddies,” especially Eric.

While he is initially horrified by Scot, Eric undergoes a powerful transformation during the course of the movie. Cavanagh is excellent, amusing and moving by turns, and is paired nicely with Shenkman. As written by Sean Reycraft (adapting Michael Downing’s novel) and directed by Laurie Lynd, Breakfast with Scot illustrates that two parents of the same gender are certainly no less beneficial to children than their heterosexual counterparts.

Saving Marriage (also in limited release by Regent Releasing/here! Films beginning tomorrow) is a revealing, non-fictional look at the legal battle over same-sex marriage as it was fought between 2004-2005 in the state of Massachusetts. A proposed constitutional amendment there was defeated, but only after numerous, often surprising political twists and turns.

I expect even those viewers who followed developments closely in Massachusetts will be riveted by the suspenseful tone producer-directors Mike Roth and John Henning lend to their necessarily streamlined recounting of events that played out over nearly two years.

At present, Massachusetts is the only state in the union where same-sex couples can get legally married and enjoy the exact same rights as married spouses of different genders. Whether GLBT residents of California, Arizona and other states will soon enjoy the same rights and benefits remains to be seen. Saving Marriage provides both encouragement and hope in our ongoing fight for equality.

Watch the trailers here: Breakfast with Scot, Surviving Marriage.

UPDATE: Breakfast with Scot is available on DVD and Saving Marriage is now available on DVD now from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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