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"Were the World Mine": A Utopian Response to Prop 8?

by Eric Kohn
November 26, 2008 6:44 AM
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Gus Van Sant's Milk is a strongly developed narrative about the role of community organizing in progressive American consciousness (eat that, Giuliani). For that reason, the parallels between the heartfelt protests of San Fransisco's gay community against Proposition 6 in the film and the current protests again Proposition 8 are not remotely forced. In fact, that the movie offers hope to the contemporary gay community serves as the least sentimental aspect of it (the most sentimental being Sean Penn locking lips with James Franco in a slo-mo crane shot). It's actually a kind of shrewd realism when story draws subtle comparisons between two historical periods when one of them is our own, and for that reason Milk often works as an modern day editorial in addition to a gripping account of tumultuous times.

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But some people might want to gather hope with hyperbole, not realism. For those Proposition 8 warriors seeking to marry their passion with escapism, I must recommend Were the World Mine. Tom Gustafson's clever gay comedy focuses on an alienated teen (Tanner Cohen) whose daydreams of a life filled with blithe dance numbers become a reality when he gets cast as Puck in his high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. And creates a love potion. Which makes everyone in town totally gay for each other. Chaos ensues.

Off the hook with ridiculous plot twists and mushy romanticism, Were the World Mine doesn't give a flip about nuanced characterizations. But it casts a spell not unlike that of the aforementioned elixir. The movie sweetly embraces free love with an upbeat spirit rarely seen in recent romantic comedies. It's out now...but so's Milk. So choose your potion wisely.

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