But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for strong language and sexual content involving teens
Running Time: 85 min.

Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Cathy Moriarty, RuPaul, Dante Basco, Eddie Cibrian
Director:  Jamie Babbit
Screenplay:
Brian Wayne Peterson

Review published April 17, 2000

BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER is of the type of comedy that annoys me the most, the type of comedy that tries to achieve laughs merely from tossing together eccentric characters and putting them in titillating situations and thinks their interchange will naturally produce laughs.  However, at no time is there a genuinely funny line or moment written for any to deliver and what we're left with is a comedy that dressed everyone up but gave them nothing funny to say.

Natasha Lyonne plays Megan, a seemingly typical teenage girl, a high school cheerleader, but curiously not passionate when it comes to kissing her boyfriend.  Everyone else seems to think she's a lesbian but her, so her parents send her to a school that changes gay teens into straight ones through counseling.  Amid other girls and boys of equal sexual confusion, playing things straight proves difficult, especially when a fellow classmate reveals her feelings for her.

BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER had originality going for it in terms of theme, but very little else.  While well cast, the entire 90 minutes seems to go by with little in the way of laughs or genuine feeling for the characters.  While there are deeper social issues being dealt with, such as the fact that we should embrace those who are homosexual rather than rehabilitate them, the film never really drives the point home in a meaningful way to anyone who doesn't already feel that way.  While never succeeding as a comedy, the film later makes the fatal mistake of thinking it can change gears and become a touching love story without ever showing us anything beyond wafer-thin caricatures.  While some may applaud an openly gay comedy, this film is as crass and vulgar as any of the heterosexual ones, with gratuitous cheesecake shots and sexual situations. 

BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER is likely only to appeal to gay and lesbian viewers that have had parents and others try to convert them to the ways of the straight and narrow(-minded).  For the rest of us, it's just another tedious teen sex comedy that tries to evoke laughs through more envelope-pushing and shock value.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo