Almost Normal

Almost Normal is a low-budget indie film that has a clever premise that I could easily see being borrowed, polished up, and given a bigger budget reworking.
Almost Normal

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Marc Moody

Actors: J. Andrew Keitch, Tim Hammer, Joan Lauckner

Year: 2005

MPAA Rating: NR

Country: United States

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Brad, a college professor, is a gay man who is on the verge of suffering a mid-life crisis on his 40th birthday. He’s a bit of a nerd, suffering daily humiliations, like getting busted oggling shirtless young men in a pickup game of basketball, or thinking he’s getting hit on by a hot college student, when in fact the kid is trying to set him up with his dad. Brad begrudgingly ends up at his parents’ wedding anniversary party, drinks himself silly, and, feeling sorry for himself (“Why can’t I just be normal?”), drives off in a huff.

One car accident later, Brad wakes up and finds himself back in high school. But this isn’t high school as he remembers it: all the kids are gay, and the straight ones are the outcasts! Well, great! Now Brad gets to feel like the “normal” kid, dates the sexy basketball star (who he always had a crush on), and finds his popularity on the rise. But when Brad meets the new girl (his actual best girlfriend from his “real” life), he finds himself… what?… falling in love with a woman???

Turning straight vs. gay society on its head is fun, and Almost Normal playfully accounts for issues of reproduction, the problems of showering in locker rooms at school, and the concerns of parents that their kids may be (gasp!) straight. The mocked and shunned straight kids are afraid of public displays of affection, and they sneak off to “straight” bars where they can slow-dance. Of course, the movie doesn’t shy away from the cruelty of taunting the outcasts, and even has a “straight-bashing” episode that is deadly serious.

As you can see, there is some clever social commentary here, and I couldn’t help but think of what this film could be with higher production values. The cast is able, if unexceptional. Andrew Keitch as Brad is a charming enough lead, and is passable (in makeup) as a 40-year-old as well as a boyish teenager. The age makeup on various cast members, probably because of the low budget, looks like the “gray hair powder” that you see in plays, but it turns out to be not too distracting. It is the movie itself, partly because of the direction, the screenplay, and the acting, that tends to clunk along at points.

When you are consciously thinking about the potential of a movie, rather than the movie itself, obviously it is not doing its job. Almost Normal is a good start, but could really shine in the hands of edgier talent.

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