If the gay-themed "Tennessee Queer" came out 20 years ago — or was at least a more deftly made film — perhaps it wouldn't seem so desperately past its sell-by date. But this unevenly acted yuckfest, which is as unsubtle as its title, has all the pizazz of a bad sitcom episode.
When Jason Potts (Christian Walker), a
Sure, it's a nice idea. But aside from the fact that Jason's motives are not wholly pure (he's also trying to prove a point to his meddling family), his scheme, as it unfolds here, feels contrived and implausible.
Also convoluted are the torpedoing efforts of Jason's clownish rival, Smyth's Bible-quoting mayoral hopeful — and self-described "soldier in the culture wars" — Dewayne Cotton (Billie Worley). With the help of a Pat Robertson-like preacher (Jim Eikner), Cotton pretends to support the looming parade in hopes of nabbing the homegrown gay participants and shuttling them off to a pray-away-the-gay camp, a place shown to excess in a weak promotional video spoof.
Given that entrapment is such a historically evil tactic, its use within a comic environment feels misguided. But that's endemic of the movie's overall problem: In attempting to skewer persistent red state-style homophobia, writer-producer Mark Goshorn Jones and fellow co-director Ryan Earl Parker too often overplay the stereotypes — both gay and straight — to diminishing returns.
"Tennessee Queer." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At the Arena Cinema, Hollywood.