Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Everyone’s going Gray these days. Both versions of the name are enjoying a renaissance; Grey’s Anatomy, the Jennifer Garner character, Grey, in Catch and Release, and now Gray, the confused but well-meaning namesake of Gray Matters.
Gray is an advertising executive; Sam is a surgical intern specializing in vascular (heart) surgery. They are spectacularly compatible siblings, ballroom dancing together, attending dinner parties, being mistaken for lovers. Oops! The “ick” and “ew” factor is high. Each of them yearns for that special someone – never suspecting that it would turn out to be the same person. Gray (a woman) almost knows before Sam (a man), that she is in love with Charlie (another woman). Sam and Charlie prepare to marry in Las Vegas a mere 24 hours after they meet. Happens all the time, I’m told. Just look at Danny Bonaduce.
The rest of the movie follows Gray as she tries to reconcile her feelings for her sudden sister-in-law. Meanwhile, is Gray really gay? Even her name indicates confusion, a lack of clarity. She is the first one to suspect, but the last one to know, where her heart will end up.
Charlie (Bridget Moynahan), like all zoologists, could be a lingerie model for Victoria’s Secret. You know how sexy those scientists are. Her search for a wedding dress is the perfect opportunity to show her body to Gray (and us). We can’t have Charlie portrayed as a short, plain, egghead of a good soul, now can we? She must be visually stunning so that both of our sibling heroes can fall for her before she even opens her mouth.
Gray (Heather Graham) is infinitely likeable as the possible lesbian who only wants to do the right thing. She just doesn’t happen to know what that is. Sam (Tom Cavanagh) is her fast talking brother, quick with a quip and usually supportive of his sister. These two share a mutual affection that can be uncomfortable early in the film. Most people I know would not be able to relate to the extra-close bond these two have or the activities they share. Remember the whispers about Angelina Jolie and her brother? It’s no wonder that Gray and Sam start looking for significant others – fast. Sibling rivalry sets in, but only Gray is aware of it. She has played second banana to her brother’s achievements all of her life. Just once, she’d like to be the winner.
Gray’s support system includes her therapist, Dr. Sydney (Sissy Spacek), a love-struck cab driver named Gordy (Alan Cumming) and Carrie, her friend and co-worker at the advertising agency (Molly Shannon). Each of these characters support Gray in their own way, and in varying degrees, but a large portion of the film involves someone or other reassuring our hapless heroine that it’s okay to be who she begins to suspect she is.
With all of these developments, there must be conflict, and there is. It comes from Gray’s almost obsessive need to confess all of her feelings, all of the time. There is something to be said for quiet introspection, but that does not happen here. There is hand wringing, self-doubt, and a subtle mourning for the path not taken. Still, we are on Gray’s side, largely in part due to Graham’s charisma. She stops just short of whining in a role that could easily accommodate hysteria and overacting. Molly Shannon, as Gray’s friend Carrie, adds a good-natured comic relief as events unfold to surprising outcomes. And Gordy becomes Gray’s unusual wingman, literally “dress” ing the part.
You will not forget for a minute that, aside from the quickie wedding in Las Vegas, the setting is New York City. Good thing for Gray, that this trio did not get acquainted in a less liberal location. The two cities allow for events to unfold in handily decadent surroundings. There’s an appearance by Gloria Gaynor, as well as a spontaneous, synchronized dance in a downtown loft. Central Park is its own star and the requisite place for people with dogs to meet, jog, and ultimately fall in love.
There are several contrivances that serve to advance the plot and the film doesn’t always successfully steer clear of clichés (you’ll see), but in general, it is a charming effort that goes out of its way not to offend. The humor is gentle and respectful.
This is Writer/Director Sue Kramer’s directorial debut. Her script incorporates clever dialogue and knows when to stop nagging at a point and move on. There were several moments when I felt my eyes starting to roll, but that was usually replaced by savvy scene advancement for which I was most grateful. I was not prepared to like Gray Matters as much as I did, but Kramer does a respectable job of making all of her characters matter.