Partner(s) (2005) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for innuendo and language
Running Time: 91 min.

Cast: Jay Harrington, Julie Bowen, Michael Ian Black, Brooke Langton, Josh Cooke, Jim Rash, Corey Reynolds, Saul Rubinek, Steve Ryan, Lee Garlington
Director: Dave Diamond

Screenplay: Dave Diamond
Review published December 19, 2005

Jay Harrington (Octopus, Catalina Trust) stars as Dave Denali, an up and coming lawyer in his liberal law firm that sees a huge opportunity come his way when he is chosen to head up a gay discrimination case.  He dresses well and his roommate is gay, so the assumption is made that Dave is also gay, which makes him a perfect unimpeachable counselor in the case.  Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, Dave plays along.  However, things get complicated when the daughter (Langton, The Replacements) of the firm's head befriends him and shows attraction.  With his future career on the line, will Dave be able to keep from "outing himself" as a straight man to his peers and coworkers?

A straight man pretending to be homosexual in order to get ahead at work isn't anything novel in comedies, especially to anyone that has seen the French comedy, The Closet (Le Placard), or the occasional television sitcom with the same premise.  Partner(s) is the latest incarnation of the theme, utilizing the varied meanings of the word "partner" to not only include the law firm status aspect, but it also doubles in meaning as one's significant other, generally used by gay and lesbian couples more so than straight.  The difference here is that Partner(s) is more about breaking stereotypes rather than making them, having fun from the inside out on the situation. 

From what I've read, the inspiration to make this film comes from writer-director Dave Diamond's own experience being mistaken for a gay man himself, based on the clothes he wears, personal interests, voice patterns and pitch, and other factors that people often use to gauge the sexuality of another associate or acquaintance.  Rather than attack such profiling, Diamond chooses to instead have fun with the fact that people make such judgments so readily, by having one of his main characters exploit the rumors and innuendo of others to his personal advantage.

The situations, as alluded to earlier, are mostly sitcom, keeping Partner(s)' entertainment value modest, so keep expectations low.  While there are a few funny moments, Diamond's film will probably not appeal to viewers unless they can personally relate to the story, whether due to it happening to them, or because it happened to someone they know in their own workplace.  The funniest stuff comes from the comedy of errors involved through the characters making assumptions based strictly on outward appearances, especially by the characters that are doing everything in their power to not look like they might be gay.  The cast is appealing, but the story too slight to carry a full-length feature, so unless you're already attracted to the plot for some reason, you'll probably find Partner(s) to be likeable yet disposable fare.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo