But I’m a Cheerleader

One of this teenage lesbian comedy's cast members, Melanie Lynskey, starred in my film Foreign Correspondents, and in fact she gave me this film's script (by Brian Wayne Peterson) to read the very night before she started work on it. Even then, I didn't care for it. As Mel's friend, my primary complaint was that her character wasn't given enough to do. As a filmmaker, however, my primary complaint was that the script sucked! It was smug, shallow, preached to the choir, and its satirical edge was dull, despite its easy target ("heterosexual rehabilitation" camps for gay teens).

Nevertheless, Mel promised that the colorful cast would breathe life into the material. I hoped she was right. Then, a year and a half later, I saw the finished product. And it reinforced my long-held belief that no cast or director, no matter how talented, can make a decent film out of a lousy script.

Natasha Lyonne is quite good as the churchgoing cheerleader whose paranoid parents believe is a lesbian, and the rest of the actors (including fellow Foreign Correspondents star Richard Moll) seem to be having fun with their showy roles, but Jamie Babbit's direction is flat. She aims for both high camp and earnest love story, and as a result achieves neither. The silly Casio keyboard score grates, the sets are colorful but too self-consciously jokey, and in any event all efforts are overshadowed by Peterson's trite, uninspired, and amateurish script.

If it means anything, the (mostly gay) audience I saw it with enjoyed it, and my (straight) friends who went to the film with me both found it charming and very funny. So maybe I'm just a square. But I'm a square with good taste.