Review: ‘Saugatuck’ spoof misses the mark
Some lowbrow bathroom humor aside, “Saugatuck Cures” commences like a Lifetime movie in which Maggie (Judith Chapman), proprietor of a bed-and-breakfast in the titular bucolic Michigan town, presides over Thanksgiving dinner with dutiful gay son, Drew (Max Adler); stuck-up daughter, Penelope (Amanda Lipinski); Penelope’s deacon fiancée, Paul (Matthew Klingler); Penelope’s unfaithful alcoholic ex, Brett (Danny Mooney); the arbitrary token black transsexual, LaQuisha (Julianne Howe-Bouwens); and some random lady, Roberta (Ingrid Mortimer), whose cat Drew once rescued.
Maggie has cancer and can’t afford treatment — so far, so Lifetime. Inspired by the seemingly lucrative ex-gay therapy retreat run by Paul, Brett persuades Drew to travel from church to church with him in a Hetero Mobile and pretend to cure latent homosexuality to raise funds for Maggie’s procedure. Here, the film makes a sharp turn into a “Saturday Night Live"-type broad comedy complete with grotesque religious stereotypes, none more cringeworthy than Brett channeling a black pastor in a sermon that borders on minstrelsy.
Laughter can break down barriers, but don’t count on director Matthew Ladensack to help bridge differences. Poking fun at zealotry is one thing; the film actually vilifies those struggling to reconcile their religious upbringing with their sexual orientation. Given the higher suicide rate among gay youths, you’d expect a little compassion instead of mockery for the closet cases.
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for weekly recommendations, analysis, interviews and irreverent discussion of the TV and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.