This week in movies you missed: In 1979, a gay couple sets out to adopt a kid "nobody else wants," only to find out society isn't ready for a two-dad family.
What You Missed
Rudy (Alan Cumming) is a drag queen from Queens who makes his living lip-synching to disco hits in an LA gay bar. Paul (Garret Dillahunt) works for the DA's office, wears three-piece suits and is still deep in the closet.
Their one-night stand turns into something more when Rudy seeks Paul's legal help to deal with a touchy situation. Rudy's junkie neighbor (Jamie Anne Allman) has been carted off to jail, and her neglected teenage son, Marco (Isaac Leyva), who has Down syndrome, won't stay put in a foster home. Rudy has formed a bond with Marco and doesn't want to see him slip through the cracks.
Paul opens his home to Rudy and Marco, and the three quickly become a family. But when the state becomes aware of the two men's relationship, they must defend their right to raise a child — with the odds stacked against them.
Why You Missed It
Released in 19 U.S. theaters in 2012, writer-director Travis Fine's drama is now available on Netflix Instant, home video, etc.
Should You Keep Missing It?
Any Day Now is one of those movies where the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
Those parts are so good. Take two excellent, very different actors and write contrasting roles that allow them to counterpoint each other. Add a kid who will tug on the viewer's heartstrings with his totally unaffected performance. Make it all pivot around a systemic injustice that still exists in some U.S. states today. Throw in '70s-tastic suits, torch singing and disco glitter, and voilà ... failed Oscar bait?
The problem is the screenplay. It starts so promisingly, with an unlikely romance between two characters who defy stereotypes. I hoped we'd see Paul and Rudy's relationship explored in more depth, even tested, as they struggled to keep Marco in their care. Instead, the story becomes a simplistic rah-rah courtroom drama, with our good guys arrayed against a gang of villainous lawyers and judges who would rather entrust a vulnerable kid to a shockingly negligent parent than to two men in a loving relationship.
The injustice is real, and the point is well taken. But just as the odds are stacked against the couple, so the odds were always stacked against Any Day Now in the awards race, because it lacks the upbeat, life-affirming ending that Oscar voters love to see in their fight-the-power flicks. So why was it necessary to have borderline-cheesy, Oscar-clip moments such as Rudy exhorting Paul to "bust out of your closet and go do some world-changin'"?
In sum, I wish the filmmakers had made this more a meaty character study and less an "issue" movie that prompts us to boo and cheer. Dillahunt is such an amazing actor that he got to play two villains on "Deadwood" and somehow was still plausible on a sitcom ("Raising Hope"). He deserves a more complex character here.
Verdict: My reservations aside, Any Day Now is still well worth seeing for anyone with an interest in gay adoption rights. Have tissues ready.
This Week in Theaters
Joseph Gordon-Levitt must learn to love Scarlett Johansson as much as he loves porn (what a dilemma!) in Don Jon. Paula Patton also experiences the kind of romance problems only gorgeous movie stars can have in Baggage Claim.
Rush takes us back to a '70s racing rivalry. Food becomes disturbingly sentient in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Only at the Savoy Theater, yet another film about gorgeous movie stars trying to learn how to have meaningful relationships (Thanks for Sharing) and a doc about Salinger.
This Week on Video
For those who can stomach artful depictions of food that used to be sentient: "Hannibal," season 1, comes highly recommended by me and (more importantly) by Middlebury TV-studies prof Jason Mittell.
Plus: Iron Man 3. Fill the Void. The Kings of Summer. Unfinished Song. V/H/S 2. And Room 237, which will probably be my next Movie You Missed.