It’s Friday, which means it’s time to review another LGBT-themed movie! This week I chose But I’m a Cheerleader, a hilarious movie about gay teenagers who are sent to straight-camp by their parents.
Director: Jamie Babbit
Genre: Comedy, drama
Average rating: 6.6/10
This was another re-watch for me, and I’m very happy to say that I was not disappointed. Often when I re-watch a movie I notice a lot of negative things I didn’t realise were there, but I absolutely loved it and can honestly think of nothing offensive or bad in any way.
We follow Megan, a teenage girl whose parents decide to send her to a sexuality-conversion camp. Megan is confused, because she doesn’t think she’s gay, but her family and friends are convinced she is. This probably sounds like a sad and dramatic premise, but the movie couldn’t be funnier. The camp isn’t a scary place, because it’s presented as so ridiculous and stupid that it becomes a parody of what the real thing probably looks like.
The whole movie is a bit surreal. There is this weird music that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, and the way the movie is shot makes it feel dream-like. When we first arrive at the conversion camp, there’s this huge house that look like it belongs to Barbie herself – it’s perfectly tidy and neat and so pink. Everyone in the group has to wear these ridiculous clothes that are pink for girls and blue for boys, and they have to talk about their sexuality and accept that it’s wrong, and then do certain activities to learn proper gender roles. The entire movie is just so strange and a parody of real conversion-therapy. I laughed out loud a lot, because even though the lady who owns the camp is unlikable and her activities frustrating, it’s still incredibly funny to watch.
It’s made clear from the start that this conversion-therapy doesn’t work. Everyone is pretending to be straighter than they were when they got there, but they’re all just secretly making out with someone of their own gender. The whole group is super gay, and it’s just really funny (and kind of sad) to see how they keep trying to be extremely manly or feminine.
However, I really like the fact that Megan, the main character, actually is feminine, without trying. I feel like lesbians in movies and TV shows tend to be rather “masculine”, and Megan loves cheerleading and wearing pink. It’s not her way of being pretend-straight, it’s who she is, and I like that they didn’t make her a stereotype.
The movie has some fantastic lines – it’s probably the most quotable LGBT+ movie out there, which of course makes it even better. The guy who leads some of the camp activities first introduces himself to Megan by saying that he’s an ex-gay, so there’s laugh-out-loud material right from the start. There’s also this recurring idea that lesbians are all vegetarians, which cracked me up, because I can confirm that 90% of the time it’s true. (I’m still laughing.)
There’s quite a bit of romance as well, and it’s clear from the start that a girl called Graham is the love-interest. She’s sassy and bad-ass and doesn’t believe in any of the crap that this camp is trying to teach them. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants, and she’s not afraid of getting it.
My favourite part of the movie is definitely Rock. He’s the son of the woman who owns the camp, and it’s hilarious because he’s super gay and his mom keeps acting like he’s the perfect straight man.
But this movie is of course not just funny, it’s moving and important as well. In the end it all comes down to accepting who you are and not living a lie to please your parents or anyone else who wants you to be straight. The ending of the movie really reflects that idea, and even though it might be a bit too perfect, it definitely conveys the right message.
On a completely different note – did anyone recognise the actress who plays Megan? Surprise, surprise! It’s Natasha Lyonne, the same girl who plays Nicky in Orange is the New Black.
If you try really hard you can almost imagine that Megan and Nicky are the same person, and after Megan leaves to be gay and free, she gets in trouble and ends up in prison 14 years later. (That’s it, that’s my final theory.)
What I learned from re-watching But I’m a Cheerleader is that I freaking love older LGBT-themed movies. They’re rare and lovely and usually ahead of their time, and next week’s is gonna be another one from the late 90s. If anyone can guess what movie that’s gonna be, you’re getting a shout-out. (Nobody cares, I know.)
‘Till next time and happy watching!