Leviticus 18:22 Says This Movie Will Burn In Hell. I Am Less Leniant.
It must be tough being gay. I wouldn’t know from personal experience, despite having experimented with hair products in college, but I’m guessing that it’s a pretty hard life. You can’t walk past a guy in a baseball cap without flinching, you’re contractually obliged to watch Will & Grace and pretend to enjoy it, and everyone you meet automatically thinks you’ve got full-blown AIDS, despite the fact that you’re only HIV positive. And worst of all, every time a movie involves anything other than extreme sports or the rise and fall of a noble crack dealer in the hood, you get associated with it. The Phantom of the Opera is no exception. It’s got men in capes, singing, and bright colours, all things that are associated by American fraternities and Jamaican dancehall musicians with homosexuality. Granted, the preceding description does seem as if it could apply equally to a Liberace concert or a Pride parade, but none of those elements necessarily makes a movie ‘gay’. Joel Schumacher makes it gay. They just make it bad. There’s a reason that musicals went extinct in the 1960s, and why numerous attempts to revive them failed as surely as a Pauly Shore sitcom. People were clearly getting sick of music, as evidenced by the rise of Led Zeppelin and Queen in the 70s, and judging by the fact that the current scene is in state where the music underground sounds exactly like the music mainstream except the band names make less sense, the stagnation hasn’t abated. Plus, there’s absolutely no way to put a man in a cape on screen without having him look like an 18th century nobleman. I’m sure Little Lord Fauntleroy has the potential for gravitas somewhere underneath his frilled collar and thickly perfumed shirt, but it’s a little difficult to take him seriously when he takes regular snuff breaks between dramatic beats.
And just a hint of chest hair to seal the deal.
It’s not that there isn’t anything redeemable about Schumacher’s version of The Phantom of the Opera. There’s a no-name cast, which can be helpful in creating an engrossing viewing experience. Star power is one thing, but I’m not going to get sucked into the tragic mood of impending doom in Othello if I have to stare at Eddie Murphy’s cornrows the whole time. The score is huge and well-conducted, which would be a good thing if it did not consist of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs, penned by a man who appears to believe that everyone needs to sound off in expository monologues like G.I. Joe villains set to a mix of timpani and Ted Nugent guitar licks. And the set seems to have been designed for the express purpose of getting film critics to sprain their thumbs flipping coins while deciding between overusing the word ‘lush’ or ‘sumptuous’ in their review, thus crippling their typing hands and leaving them unable to pan the film. But something doesn’t quite come together in the film. Something’s missing. The film showed up to the club, but it forgot its poppers back at the bathhouse, so instead of enjoying an amphetamine-fueled blowjob through a washroom stall glory hole while Boy George spins a predictably house-heavy DJ set, it comes all the way downtown and spends all that time dressing up just to end up at home masturbating sullenly while watching Joe Rogan on Fear Factor.
There I go again, falling into the homophobic trap of calling a film gay just because it cares about its grooming, gets regular manicures, and has sex with men. By the usual logic by which the WWE watching, arm-band tattoo sporting imbeciles decide our entertainment fate with the dollars they earn working at Nautilus gyms the world over, any movie that a woman might remotely be interesting in seeing is gay. That rules out romances, heavy dramas, films based on novels not by Clive Cussler, and comedies that don’t involve gas passed within the first five minute. So what’s not gay? The answer is Vin Diesel. He’s got biceps bigger than my head, ego included, he’s got a gravely voice that sounds like he’s about to cough up asphalt to testify to his testosterone levels, and he has none of that pansy hair to need styling with a variety of Vidal Sassoon Mousses. He’s been in World War II movies, so we know he’d never leave a man behind, and is aware of the fine line between male bonding and homosexual lust. He’s also been in XXX, so we know he can participate in all manner of ridiculously death-defying sports, and nothing is more manly than being stupid, if Bam Margera has anything to say about it. Yes, Vin Diesel is the most heterosexual man there is, the kind of man who wears Axe Body Spray instead of cologne, and can has elevated leaning against a bar sipping a Labatt 50 while nodding his head slowly to an art form. Vin Diesel is the man we all want to be, but can never quite emulate, possibly because we’ve read a book before. Which is pretty damn gay.