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Gods and Monsters

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 02/16/00 08:17:59

"A Little Too Gay"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Gods and Monsters (**) - Gods and Monsters may go down in history as the gayest film I have ever seen. Now when I say that - I don’t mean that it was a dumb film - nor a happy film. I’m talking about the sheer homosexual imagery that jumps off the screen at the audience saying “Hey - this is a film about a truly flamboyant gay man.” I kept hearing Bill Murray in Stripes saying - “You mean like flaming?…”

Now I said gay man and not gay director - because this film is supposed to be about the Frankenstein director James Whale - but I didn’t learn a single thing I already didn’t know about him making the character just a mere gay man who coaxes a young boy in the film early on to basically play a game of strip questioning. For every question Whale answers…You get the idea. The film relishes in showing us how gay this guy was and unlike a better screen biography, Ed Wood, the humor of the situation doesn’t come off as quirky or - it comes off as creepy. Watch the way Whale plays with a giant cigar or how he refers to the Hollywood crowd as a bunch of “hard pricks”. McKellen gives what I can describe as a certainly competent performance, not one worthy of all the attention that its being given. With all his posturing that his nomination is a “declaration for gay rights” - I wouldn’t count on McKellen to win Best Actor on March 21. Brendan Fraser does another nice turn as the homophobic lawnmower. But I didn’t believe for a second that Fraser’s character would drop trou late in the film to model for Whale no matter how sorry he felt for him. Lynn Redgrave is truly terrific though. She’s the one actor who makes the material worth sitting through and finds the perfect tone for her performance. It’s only a shame that she disappears for most of the second half. Damn was I disappointed with this film. There are some good moments and a wonderfully stunning shot of the silhouettes of McKellen and Fraser that could easily be mistaken for Frankenstein’s monster and its creator. The little Hollywood backstage stories concerning Whale come in the form of a mere flashback to the set of Bride of Frankenstein and a party for George Cukor. To fully pull off the metaphor of Whale creating his “screen monsters”, we should have seen more of the movie set material and less of the homoerotic imagery which runs rampant and takes over nearly every scene.

In the end, Whale comes off as not the director of such Hollywood classics as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Showboat, but nothing more than a dirty old man who likes to look at young boys. It makes you wonder at what age Michael Jackson will get his biography on the big screen.

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