Say Uncle

on June 23, 2006 by Kim Williamson
A film that has a lot going for it, including supporting roles by the likes of Kathy Najimy and Melanie Lynskey, "Say Uncle" -- which lead actor/filmmaker Peter Paige mischaracterizes as a comedy -- nonetheless founders due to odd moments in its narrative and the lack of a persuasive central theme.

First appearing to be some sort of Charly character, gay artist Paul has an intense yet pure fondness for the company of children; having befriended a married couple with a little boy he loves intensely, winning himself an "uncle" title, Paul faces heartbreak when the family moves to Japan. In the process of coming to terms, he loses his daytime telemarketing job, refuses the love of friend Russell (an effective Anthony Clark), and most integrally falls afoul of a neighborhood group who wants him imprisoned as a child molester -- because he's a gay man who likes to play with kids.

The climax, when Paul faces the group, feels constructed in a way that the first part of the film does not; the early moments, when Paul is spending time with the family, seem so genuine -- however genuinely odd -- that they play like real-world events. (As it turns out, that section is based on Paige's life.) Where "Say Uncle" loses its way is when the affection for children is made not just the setting of the story but the point of the story; the film seems to be on a crusade for... exactly what? That gay men who love playing with children should be allowed to play with children? Somehow answering that question doesn't quite rank as a societal crisis; instead, Paul's affection for children comes across simply as a personality quirk -- just a fact, not a movement -- of a fellow that ofttimes doesn't quite seem to be all there. Rather like the film. But when the film is "there" it can be engaging indeed. Starring Peter Paige. Directed and written by Peter Paige. Produced by Peter Paige and Christopher Racster. A TLA release. Drama. Rated R for some language. Running time: 90 min

Tags: Starring Peter Paige, Directed, written by Peter Paige, Produced by Peter Paige, Christopher Racster, TLA, Drama

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