January 29, 2011

Queer Review: Outing Riley

Outing Riley
Director: Pete Jones
Writer: Pete Jones
Cast: Pete Jones, Nathan Fillion, Stoney Westmoreland, Dev Kennedy, Julie R. Pearl, Michael McDonald

Outing Riley appears to be the loving pet project of Director/Writer/Star Pete Jones. At times, it succeeds at being a well made homage to a Catholic family and at other times it flounders. Also, I do have to wonder how much Pete Jones had based this movie on his own family.

Bobby Riley (Pete Jones) is gay but has not come out to the male members of his Irish Catholic clan. His sister Maggie (Julie R. Pearl) knows, but his older brothers Luke (Nathan Fillion), Connor (Stoney Westmoreland), Jack (Dev Kennedy), are blissfully unaware. Bobby's boyfriend Andy (Michael McDonald) is also getting fed up with his procrastination, eventually leaving Bobby halfway through the film.

The film opens with the family gathered to mourn the passing of their father. We are shown in this scene a typical (some might say stereotypical) Catholic family, with incredibly strong internal ties. When Bobby eventually caves into the pressure and shows his brothers a slide show of him and Andy, they take it badly, as was expected.

The film's strongest aspect comes from it's creation of an entirely believable Irish Catholic family. Kudos to the cast for managing to pull that off. I also appreciated the more creative storytelling techniques Pete Jones employees, such as the frequent breaking of the four wall. Jones even goes so far as to consult a member of the film-making crew during a moment of crisis. It's almost as if Jones was trying to "out" his movie for being a movie.

The weakest part here is the hackneyed "coming out" plot. Coming out of the closet is a familiar experience for many queers. However, while it is an easy enough experience to relate to, I would argue that the evidence here is that the "coming out" trope is not a strong or compelling enough of a story to sustain an entire movie.

While Jones manages to create a high energy production and a believable family, the flaws too often show through for me to give Outing Riley a wholehearted recommendation.

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