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29 October 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: Breakfast with Scot

Breakfast with Scot is a delightful 2007 Canadian movie. The Scot (Noah Bernett) in question is a young boy whose great misfortune is his mother was a drug addict and raised him as if he was a girl.

His mother, whom we never meet, is finally successful in finding eternal bliss, but the social workers tell him she died in an auto accident instead of as a result of a drug overdose. She has left Scot to live with her former boyfriend, Billy--apparently never having gotten around to updating her posthumous wishes. Scot hasn't seen the old boyfriend for several years and he is living in Brazil.

Until his guardian can return to the U.S., Scot is fostered by the old boyfriend's more stable and responsible brother, Sam (Ben Shenkman), a sports lawyer whose life partner is Eric McNally (Tom Cavanagh), a gay retired hockey player (Toronto Maple Leafs) who currently works as a sportscaster. He's not totally out although everyone seems to know he is gay.

In most cases, the movie would deal with the brother in Brazil first loathing and then finally loving his new parenthood or his brother would be forced to bring his wayward brother and change him into a more responsible person. Yet the movie isn't really about the two brothers who are the legal links to guardianships.

The story centers on the unwilling partner being dragged into foster fatherhood. Eric is only semi-out-of-the-closet and Scot's presence forces him to deal with his own half-acceptance of his homosexuality. Hockey is the means although Scot's ice skating ability first manifests itself with some graceful artistic figure skating moves at the local rink. Ed seems more afraid of his softer, feminine side than Sam and Scot's flamboyance (wearing make-up and feather boas, love of Christmas carols and hugging and kissing other boys) is a greater problem for him than for Sam who considers it as Scot's attempt to keep part of his mother with him.

In a post-Will and Grace world, nothing here is too shocking and even the couple's relationship is underplayed--there's not open affections expressing coupledom. I also wondered about Brian Orser, winner of two Olympic figure skating silver medals (1984, 1988) who seemed to be openly supported by Canadians and was later outed as being gay in a palimony suit. Is ice skating perceived differently in Canada or do people still feel that male figure skaters are most likely gay?

Based on a book by Tufts University professor Michael Downing, this 2007 comedy goes for true feelings. Downing cast Sam as a chiropractor and Ed as an editor for a chic Italian magazine.

As directed by Laurie Lynd, the screenplay adaptation by Sean Reycraft glows with good-natured humor and shows how homophobia can infect and poison friendships. Of course, this has a warm and happy ending--the kind that goes with pancakes and syrup shared around the table when the chef is a young child eagerly waiting for approval.

Some might think this film belongs on TV and perhaps it does, but this movie has the distinction of being the first gay-themed film to get the approval from a major league sports franchise. The Toronto Maple Leafs approved the usage of their logo and name in 2006.

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