“Almost Normal” is not a new film but it is one worth revisiting mainly because it is the work of an Arkansan bit I’ll get to that in a bit. Here is the story if a man who is approaching his mid-life crisis and is tired of being different just because he is gay. All at once he thinks back to the days when he was in high school but it is different than it really was. This time everyone is gay and to be straight is considered a deviancy. (Sound like something you have recently seen?) Suddenly something even stranger happens—he meets a girl—a FEMALE!!!!!!!!!!! All of a sudden normal becomes “almost normal”.
What would otherwise be a throwaway comedy takes n a new meaning if we look at the film as a social satire which indeed it is., designed to show what it is like to be gay in a straight world. As a satire the movie succeeds brilliantly even though there are certain areas of confusion.
Our main character is Brad, gay, single and almost forty years old. He is discontent to put it mildly. He loves to eye good looking jocks, dates guys he doesn’t care for and is usually at odds with his best friend, Julie. While attending his parents’ 45th anniversary party, he is about to explode, Running into an old high school chum who stopped speaking to him when he came out, his nerves become frayed. Of course Mother dearest still wants him to find a nice girl and settle down and he remarks to Julie that he wishes he was “normal”. He doesn’t dislike being gay but he is tired of being different. He eventually drinks too much at the party and sneaks out to a local cruising area and crashes his car into a tree. As he lay unconscious in a hospital, he begins to dream and his dream is that his school is made up of al gays and being straight is different.
What I love about his movie is seeing a world where gay people are completely free and stand proudly against the world. In Brad’s dream there is no homophobia and everything is reversed. Now this is not a new technique and the movie is successful in that. We, of course, know that no heterosexual can imagine what it is like to be gay in a straight world and the persuasiveness of the film is nothing short of incredible.
The movie is good but it could have been so much better. The editing was lacking and some the cast emoted a little too much but regardless it is a groundbreaking movie. “Almost Normal” brought a unique view to prejudice and misunderstanding and we get a chance to see life from the other side. There were times, however, that the movie wasn’t sure if its aim was to preach or to amuse, to sadden or annoy the viewer. At times I felt as if I was watching an al gay “Back to the Future” and that is when the film became tedious and silly. Bit it does have spirit and the director and screenwriter is from right here in Arkansas, Marc Moody.
The movie tries to make you love it and it is a nice diversion and a new way to look at prejudice but it is rough and hurt by technical difficulties and a cast that just wasn’t on the clock. The movie gave Moody a good solid grounding in order to make more movies but as far as I know he has not.
See it and form your own opinion. I enjoyed it despite its faults and I give it three plus stars. Would I recommend it? Damn right I would.