But I'm a Cheerleader
At first it seems Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is the stuff of young Republican breeder dreams: She's blond, virulently Christian, has a brainless-hunk beau, and harbors no ambition beyond a deep-seated urge to remain blissfully clueless for life. Alas, Megan also likes Melissa Etheridge, collects shots of scantily clad babes in her locker, and nearly barfs when her hunk French-kisses her. The import of this damning evidence is not missed by her otherwise dim parents (Harold and Maude's Bud Cort and John Waters regular Mink Stole), who pack her off to a gender-preference reorientation camp called True Directions before she can develop an irreversible case of full-blown lesbianism.The thing is, there really are, right here, in the civilized world and even suburban America, places like this. So it's an issue ripe for merciless satire. But despite a cast straight out of camp-film heaven--RuPaul as a "reformed" gay counselor, Cathy Moriarty as a hell-spawned bitch headmistress, The Faculty's butch überbabe Clea DuVall, and, of course, Cort and Stole--But I'm a Cheerleader is so busy being self-righteous it forgets to be funny.
Stylistically, the movie can't decide between totally over-the-top effects (everything at True Directions is painted in shocking pinks and baby blues), wide-reaching social satire (the camp curriculum tweaks 12-step dogma), or no-frills love story (between the Lyonne and DuVall characters). When first-time feature director Jamie Babbit stops trying to be clever and just concentrates on the girls' affair, the film hits some genuinely sweet romantic notes. But then it tries to be funny again, and oy.
Although she's undoubtedly sincere in her intent, Babbit deep-sixes the film with her embarrassingly heavy hand. Heterosexuals are all portrayed as thimble-brained scumbags, while all gays are witty, adorable, and fashionable. And while the film's lesbian population is an interestingly varied lot, its gay men are disturbingly presented as hot, young wincing wimps who probably like their moms too much and nearly have coronaries over any passing Tom of Finland types. The only older gay males are a pair of whiny queens reminiscent of Harvey Fierstein at his most hand-wringing. In a mainstream Hollywood film, you'd expect this. In an indie effort by a lesbian filmmaker, it's just plain creepy.