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Review: ‘Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?’ is a crude, unfunny take on Aristophanes

“Is that a Gun in Your Pocket?”
Kevin Conway, left, and John Michael Higgins, center, in the movie “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?”
(Area 23a)

Aristophanes’ “battle of the sexes” comedy “Lysistrata” has inspired everything from Broadway musicals to real-world sex strikes; but there’s rarely been an adaptation as misbegotten as writer-director Matt Cooper’s “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” Good intentions and a decent cast and can’t save a film this painfully unfunny.

Andrea Anders stars as Jenna, a small-town Texas wife and mother whose son swipes the family’s handgun and accidentally shoots up his school. When none of the local men seem concerned, Jenna organizes the ladies, suggesting that they lock their husbands and boyfriends out of their bedrooms until the whole community disarms.

“Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” has the misfortune of arriving less than a year after filmmaker Spike Lee’s similar— and much better — “Chi-Raq.” Cooper’s take is less complex than Lee’s. It mostly consists of crude, explicit comments meant to serve as jokes, peppered with the occasional statistic about mass shootings in America.

What’s missing is any kind of attempt to capture the nuances of Southern culture or modern gender roles. Every male character is a thickly accented redneck chauvinist. Every woman is a happy homemaker type — with the exception of one stereotypical sexpot Latina and a foul-mouthed grandma played by Cloris Leachman.

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Very quickly, “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” becomes less about the gun issue than about randy dudes and their icy ladies. The movie tries to wrap an important social message in comedy, but it’s unpalatable all the way through.

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‘Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?’

MPAA rating: R, for sexual content and language.

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Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

 

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