Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!] Thursday, 10/16/2008, 7:00 PM Feature presentation, $20 at Lincoln Theatre
SECOND SHOWING ADDED!
A second showing of Breakfast with Scot has been added to the festival schedule (to replace Lokas). The newly added show time will be:
Breakfast with Scot Monday, October 10, 7pm AFI Silver
A SOLID OPENING night film for any film festival — and for Reel Affirmations, in particular — should be a crowd-pleaser. It should be intelligently written, well-performed, and directed with a modicum of style. It doesn’t have to be especially challenging or genre-busting or even a masterpiece — that’s what closing night is for (see Were the World Mine) — but it should be competent. Above all else, it should buoy the audience’s spirits, setting the tone for the days and countless films to come.
Breakfast With Scot more than fills the bill. It’s more than solid, more than good. And it’s more than the sum of its parts, which are admittedly a little shopworn and formulaic when taken at face value. What allows Breakfast With Scot the ability to rise above itself are two perfect performances — Noah Bernet as the titular character, a 9-year-old with flamboyant tendencies, and Thomas Cavanaugh as the gay man whose life is forever changed by this junior miss in his midst.
Cavanaugh, best known for his TV work in Ed and Scrubs, plays Eric McNally, a former Canadian hockey star now making his way as a network sportscaster. Eric has lived quietly for five years with Sam (Ben Shenkman). He’s not out at work, where he’s constantly reminded of his mythic stature as a former jock.
When Sam’s sister dies, the couple takes in her son, Scot, until Sam’s bad-news brother (and Scot’s legal guardian) is found. A cherub-cheeked redhead with soulful, mournful eyes and a killer smile, Scot comes armed not with a chest of toy soldiers, but a clutch of cosmetics, feather boas, and gardenia-scented hand creams, not to mention a fondness for Christmas songs.
”I think Scot might be gay,” says Eric.
”And what was your first clue?” responds Sam.
Eric is at first cool to the idea of a kid living in their home, but it’s not long before his paternal instinct switch is flipped into the ”on” position. Through Scot, Eric discovers the means of putting aside his own internalized homophobia and embracing life on his own out-and-proud terms.
Smartly directed by Laurie Lynd from a crisp, intelligent screenplay by Sean Reycraft (based on a novel by Michael Downing), Breakfast With Scot is populated by delightfully quirky, whimsical characters, especially Scot’s schoolyard chums, the best of whom is Joey, played with a goofy, endearing charm by Alexander Franks. The movie is piled high with scenes both amusing (Sam and Eric try to advise Scot on how to be more straight-acting by explaining the ”hierarchy of gestures”) and lump-in-your-throat poignant. And despite its comedic bend, there are moments in Reycraft’s screenplay that are just plain heart-shattering.
”Kids think I’m gay,” Scot confides to Eric.
”You know what gay means, right?” says Eric.
”It means they don’t like me,” replies Scot.
Breakfast with Scot feels a little TV-movie-ish at times (Lynd works mainly in TV, his most extensive credits being the Canadian teen soap, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and a few characters are not fully fleshed out (Graham Greene is wasted in the role of a pee-wee league hockey coach). But it all largely works, thanks to Cavanaugh’s understated, honest delivery — which shifts gradually and purposefully from chilly and irascible to powerful and warm. By the film’s end, Cavanaugh’s performance firmly plants a lump in your throat the size of an apple.
Resist all you want, Breakfast with Scot gets you and gets you good — right in the heart.
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