“It’s Pat” offers a simple message of self-acceptance, asserting that what counts is who you are rather than what your gender may or may not be. The trouble is that its telling is truly terrible: no wonder Touchstone took it off its release schedule some months ago. It now winds up, starting this weekend, as a Friday and Saturday midnight show at the Sunset 5.
The film’s entire premise turns upon the notion that we are not supposed to be able to tell whether Julia Sweeney’s Pat is a man or a woman. But there’s never any question that Sweeney is a woman, and Pat comes across as a bushy-browed, stereotypical butch lesbian. The effect is to make her romance with a strip-joint bartender, Chris (David Foley, who really is convincingly female), seem unduly coy in these forthright times.
Sweeney, who created Pat on “Saturday Night Live,” also proceeds on the dubious assumption that the world actually has a sustained, rather than passing, curiosity as to the gender of Pat, a klutzy, self-absorbed, shrill-voiced naif of no social awareness with an intellectual capacity apparently not much greater than that of Forrest Gump.
Yet we’re asked to believe that Pat’s new neighbor, a heretofore seemingly happily married man (Charles Rocket, in the thankless role of the decade), falls madly in love with Pat in the course of his inexplicable obsession with finding out the truth about his/her gender.
Directed nominally by Adam Bernstein, “It’s Pat” has nothing going for it but Michelle Minch’s witty production design. Pat lives in a wonderful ‘50s L.A. apartment house; his/her own unit is decorated entirely with ‘50s furniture and bric-a-brac, while Chris’ apartment is pure tropical lounge--all that’s missing are tiki torches and Martin Denny on the phonograph. The whole question of sex blurring deserves an infinitely better film than “It’s Pat.”
* MPAA rating: PG-13, for bizarre sex-related humor. Times guidelines: It is basically innocuous but its gender-blurring theme may be confusing to youngsters.
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‘It’s Pat’ Julia Sweeney: Pat David Foley: Chris Charles Rocket: Kyle A Buena Vista Pictures release of a Touchstone Pictures production. Director Adam Bernstein. Producer Charles B. Wessler. Executive producer Teri Schwartz. Screenplay by Jim Emerson, Stephen Hibbert and Julia Sweeney; based on characters created by Sweeney. Cinematographer Jeffrey Jur. Editor Norman D. Hollyn. Costumes Tom Bronson. Music Mark Mothersbaugh. Production designer Michelle Minch. Art director Mark Worthington. Set decorator Beth De Sort. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.
* In limited release, Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, at the Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 848-3500.