Queer as Folk's Peter Paige makes a strong debut as a writer/director with this original black comedy about a childlike gay man whose love of children gets him into a heap of hot water. Paul Johnson (Paige) is a somewhat simpleminded painter whose entire life revolves around his godson, a toddler named Morgan. That life comes to a screeching when Morgan's...read more
Queer as Folk's Peter Paige makes a strong debut as a writer/director with this original black comedy about a childlike gay man whose love of children gets him into a heap of hot water. Paul Johnson (Paige) is a somewhat simpleminded painter whose entire life revolves around his godson, a toddler named Morgan. That life comes to a screeching when Morgan's parents, Sarah (Lisa Edelstein) and Jim Faber (Patrick Dizney), announce that they've got some good news and some bad news. Jim just landed a new job, but his new office is in Japan and the whole family Morgan included will leaving next week. At first Paul seems oddly unfazed by the news, but instead of bidding them goodbye, Paul spends moving day binging on donuts and shows up hours after they've gone in a manic daze, spooking the new tenants (Gabrielle Union, Mark Anthony Samuel). Bereft and heartbroken, Paul drops into deep depression and is fired from his job as a magazine telemarketer by his jerky boss (Jim Ortlieb) when he fails to show up for work. Encouraged by his best friend and (now) former-coworker Russell Trotter (Yes, Dear's Anthony Clark), Paul pulls himself together and starts filling out job applications at the kinds of places where he'll be close to kids toy stores and baby clothing shops and starts hanging out at the neighborhood playground and playing with the kids. At first, unhappily married mom Maggie Butler (Kathy Najimy) is happy to see a man around, pushing the merry-go-round with all the boundless energy of five-year-old. But once she learns that Paul is not only not a parent, but is gay, she begins to notice that he sort of fits the profile of a pedophile: He's male, single, awkward around adults and tends to think of kids as pure and sweet. Her somewhat understandable initial concern, however, soon turns into hysteria when she spots Paul helping a little girl into the bathroom at Toys for Boys 'n' Girls, where he now works, then erupts into a full-blown panic when she finds Paul's admittedly freaky flier advertising his services as a nanny. Now convinced that gentle, if a bit odd, Paul is indeed a monstrous child molester, she organizes a proactive city-wide awareness plan geared toward forcing Paul out of the community, and turns his life into a living nightmare. Considering the tragic travesties of justice surrounding such notorious pedophile witch hunts as the McMartin preschool case and the ordeal of Kelly Michaels, Paige's premise is really no laughing matter, and while his film is tinged with an off-kilter humor, he's really not laughing. Nor is he being entirely unfair to other side of the issue: Paul clearly has a problem with adulthood that doesn't bode well for his future, and Paige evinces a certain amount of sympathy for mothers like Maggie Butler who want to protect their kids from the very real dangers posed by child molesters, but have become so inundated by media-generated fear-mongering that they see "profiles" instead of flesh-and-blood people.
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