But I'm A Cheerleader (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/04/2001

Two stars out of five
Running time: 89 mins

Satirical teen comedy that just about works, thanks to a decent cast, some good gags and a suitably garish colour scheme.

Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, Slums of Beverly Hills) plays Megan Williams, a seemingly normal cheer-leader at her local high-school. However, the posters of Melissa Etheridge on her bedroom wall, her less-than-enthusiastic kisses with her boyfriend plus her enthusiasm for tofu lead Megan’s parents and friends to suspect her of being a lesbian, and she is promptly packed off to True Directions, a ‘Sexual Rehabilitation’ camp led by Cathy Moriarty and an out-of-drag RuPaul.

Megan’s not even sure that she is a lesbian, but once at the camp she meets several other gay teens, including Clea DuVall’s Graham… The story may be a simple one, then, but at least But I’m A Cheerleader offers something different to the usual slew of teen comedies and, crucially, it doesn’t cop out at the end, either.

It’s also perfectly cast, with Natasha Lyonne playing the slightly-confused Megan to perfection and Clea DuVall (The Faculty) turning in another of her trademark ‘moody’ teens. There’s also strong comic support from Cathy Moriarty and RuPaul. There’s even an extended cameo from Dawson’s Creek’s Michelle Williams, as one of Megan’s fellow cheer-leaders who ‘turns her in’ at the beginning.

Stylistically, the film owes a lot to John Waters, with whom it shares the same garish colour schemes and costumes – Waters regular, Mink Stole, plays Megan’s mother, just to underline the connection. There’s also a memorably foul-mouthed joke regarding a midnight trip to a colourfully-named nightclub (the film’s best line) that similarly carries the stamp of Waters’ humour.

There are several good comic moments here, including the awkward kisses between Megan and her boyfriend and the camp’s various "cures" (mostly involving the mastering of various household duties). In fact, these kinds of camps do actually exist, which is both hilarious and disturbingly sad.

It’s true that But I’m A Cheerleader is something of a one-joke movie, and is also perhaps a little over-reliant on its collection of stereotypes. However, it makes up for this with its superbly game cast, its impressively garish use of colour and its obvious feeling for the subject matter.

That said, you wouldn’t necessarily miss anything by waiting for the video, and as teen lesbian movies go, it’s not a patch on last year’s Show Me Love. Worth watching, anyway.

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Content updated: 22/09/2018 19:50

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