SAY UNCLE

R
Reviews

Gay artist Paul (Peter Paige) is bereft when his best friend, Morgan, moves away from Portland, Oregon, to Tokyo. One's understanding of the situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Morgan is a little boy, as Paul tries to fill the void by finding a replacement for Morgan at the local playground. He's really not a pedophile-he just likes the company of kids and has an empathic ability to enter their playtime world. However, his misguided intensity leads one witnessing mother, Maggie (Kathy Najimy), to suspect him of molesting tendencies, and ignites a witch hunt against him.

Proving that there's life after "Queer as Folk," actor Paige makes his writing/directorial debut with this doubtlessly heartfelt but somewhat confusing enterprise. One never knows quite how to respond to Paul, who is surely old enough to know about certain boundaries of acceptable behavior and the reactions engendered by less sympathetic souls. Is he such a pure innocent, or maybe even a little mentally defective? "Grow up, already!" is the unfortunate response you may feel, rather than any real compassion. Paul's homosexuality really doesn't enter much into the equation here: His kiddie infatuation takes precedence over everything, including a sorta relationship with a co-worker (Anthony Clark), which should have been more developed in the interests of scope.

Ultimately, Paul's plight is just not that interesting, and when the neighborhood stridently turns against him, the film veers into absurdity. Najimy, like all good liberals, overplays the villainy of Maggie's closed mind and, like most of the characters, emerges as a cartoon. Paige himself shows very little of the range and sensitivity he did as Emmett on "Queer as Folk," strapped in as he is by the limitations of his own concept.

-David Noh